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Adam and Evelyn Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 8, 2011
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“A novel that works on many levels—the personal, the political, and even the mythological…[Adam and Evelyn] is rich in dialogue and in its examination of a contemporary fall from grace.” —Kirkus
“A madcap romantic caper…Adam and Evelyn is a love story that is complicated and fraught with distraction…Ingo Schulze peppers the narrative with witty dialogue that reads like a play and details that vividly evoke the Soviet era.” —Booklist
About the Author
Ingo Schulze was born in Dresden in 1962 and studied classical philology at the University of Jena. His first book, 33 Moments of Happiness, won two prestigious German literary awards, the Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. In 2007 he was awarded both the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the Thuringia Literature Prize. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature and lives in Berlin.
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The story in "Adam and Evelyn" jumps around. A lot. The story begins in East Germany, and from there proceeds to dip into Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and a couple other countries along the way. This is in part because "Adam and Evelyn" is meant to be a light-hearted travel story in the midst of the turmoil of 1989. It leads to a certain disorientation which was probably deliberate, but makes for no more comfortable reading. The constant location shifts, references, and casual abrupt changes are disconcerting for a reader not fully comfortable with the history of these countries, and is not particularly pleasant even for those with a bit of knowledge. The effect comes off jarring and uncomfortable.
You would think, meanwhile, that the characters must redeem the book. I wish that were true. While I was certainly curious as to our main characters' future, it was a passive interest, and certainly most of the minor characters remained that - minor. The way characters were half-introduced and then discarded, the way people were introduced and then reintroduced awkwardly... it was quite confusing.
The writing is the strongest aspect of "Adam and Evelyn". What makes the book confusing and frustrating also makes it undeniably realistic. Conversations are vague and often distracted and the narrative is reminiscent of real life. Despite the novel's other shortcomings, I was impressed by the way in which Schulze nonetheless managed to keep me engaged until the very end, reading with interest and wondering what would happen next (while still trying to figure out what had happened a few pages earlier).
Well written but overly vague, "Adam and Evelyn" is a reasonably interesting read but quite frustrating as well. I don't regret reading it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it either.
I read it in German, by the way. I have no idea whether this translation enhances or diminishes the original.
Adam pursues his beloved while helping Katja sneak into Hungary. He is attracted to his companion while Evi likewise is to Michael. Once free of East Germany, Adam suffers from displacement until the quartet reunites in West Germany; at a time when the Wall comes tumbling down.
This is a great translation of a thought provoking timely odyssey. The story line has readers thinking in terms of Genesis and Milton; the complex impact of era making global events on the lives of everyday people; and the plight of the "forced" refugees. Each of the prime foursome is fully developed, more so the title characters; leading to the readers understanding individual and group relationships, motives and fears in a world no longer like the "Garden" that they were accustomed to for much of their lives.