“Wie es leuchtet” by Thomas Brussig
Published by Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag in 2006, 608 pages

More than a decade ago I attended a public reading by Brussig but was not really mesmerized by him at that time. Especially during dinner I sensed him as kind of aloof. For years, however, I think it was more due to most of the attendees being – hm – sort of elitist?

Anyway. I read” Helden wie wir” some years ago but it did not really catch me – and of course I saw “Sonnenallee” (which I enjoyed very much) in the movie theater in East Berlin. The variations of laughter were quite interesting – some jokes were funny to my East Berlin friends, and some to my West German friends.

Last year The Husband bought “Wie es leuchtet” for our vacation and read it with great pleasure. This fall I took it with me when we went abroad – and am totally smitten.

“Wie es leuchtet” covers the time from August 1989 until the reunification in 1990, and most of its storyline takes place in Berlin and Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The book starts with a kind of prologue by a first-person narrator who turns into one of the main characters in the novel. We get introduced to a group of individuals and their perception of the tide of events: e.g. Lena, a physiotherapist, her “brother”, a photographer, Waldemar, a hotel porter, the Wilde Willy, an ambulance driver, a lawyer, a prosecutor, a police man, an artist, a journalist from West Germany etc. etc. etc.

Their plot lines are developed separately; some of them are connected with each other, while others meet coincidentally or just pass by each other on a street.

Brussig weaves a net of different live experiences, different perspectives, and while doing so makes this time period tangible and understandable.

The first three sentences:

“Verschwommene Bilder

Alles, was ich über diese Zeit weiß, weiß ich von deinen Bildern, sagte Lena. Ja, es ist meine Bestimmung, dem Leben die Bilder zu entreißen. Das Leben zu knipsen bedeutet, Menschen zu knipsen.”

And on a side note: while the book is fiction there are some parallels to real persons. The journalist, for example, is based on Matussek who works for DER SPIEGEL – and kudos to him for his great review which is published on Thomas Brussigs website.