In Klein's haunting account of a life destroyed by the aftermath of nuclear disaster, a young German woman studying in the USSR is exposed to radiation when a nearby nuclear reactor explodes, contaminating Kiev and its surroundings. Forced to take an oath of silence by Soviet officials who "recommend" she wait several years before having children, the young woman returns to Germany, where she is reunited with her high-school sweetheart. After she becomes pregnant and miscarries, however, she is gripped by an obsession to carry a baby to term to prove to herself that she was not affected by radiation exposure. Eventually, unable to avoid a second miscarriage, she attempts suicide rather than face the looming specter of slow, painful death. Alternately hopeful and bitter, Aftertime
delves convincingly into the psyche of a woman clinging desperately to denial. Klein's nameless heroine movingly recounts her effort to hold back the horrible fate that circumstances have decreed for her. Bonnie Johnston
From Kirkus Reviews
Aftertime ($24.95; May; 116 pp.; 0-8101-1504-2): This relentlessly depressing novel records the psychic disintegration of a young German woman who had been a student in Kiev at the time of a nearby nuclear reactor accident. Her fear that the earth has been poisoned triggers (failed) efforts to conceive and bear a healthy child, emotionless affairs with forgettable men, and fantasies of monstrous mutations and disfigurements that comprise the most vivid moments in a story whose innate power is unfortunately vitiated by its thematic and rhetorical overfamiliarity. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.