This short novel by one of former East Germany's most celebrated writers is set in a Berlin hospital a few years before reunification. A nameless woman with a life-threatening condition is rushed to the hospital, where between operations and recovery she hovers in a nether world outside of time and consciousness, life and death, in the "third zone" of a patient who is "no longer spoken to, but about." In her weakness, she is "like a toad pinned to the ground by a forked stick against the back of its neck." As in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective, Wolf uses illness as a powerful metaphor for existential crisis. The stream-of-conscious narrative perfectly depicts the patient's fever-dream confusion of reality, hallucination, long-suppressed memories, and moments of insight: "how often," reflects the woman, "in the course of a lifetime do we turn into someone else and lose those with whom we were young and innocent?" A best seller in Germany, this complex, haunting tale will reward readers who stay with its unconventional narrative. Highly recommended for literary fiction collections and adventurous book groups.-Janet Evans, Pennsylvania Horticultural Soc. Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.