A story of sibling love ruptured by the Iron Curtain, by one of the most significant East German writers.
“I will never forgive you,” Uli says to his sister Elisabeth. It is 1960 and the border between East and West Germany has long been closed. Their brother Konrad has already fled to the West. Disillusioned by life in the East, Uli also dreams of escape, while Elisabeth still holds out hope for the political project of the GDR. With physical checkpoints and ideological tensions between them, the siblings must navigate emotional rifts as they enter into a drama fueled by love in this unflinching portrayal of life in the early years of the German Democratic Republic.
One of the most significant East German writers, Brigitte Reimann (1933–1973) wrote irreverent, autobiographical works that addressed issues and sensibilities otherwise repressed in the GDR. Outspoken and idealistic, she wrote in her diaries that she would rather “live 30 wild years instead of 70 well-behaved ones.” Considered a master of socialist realism, she heeded the state’s call for artists to engage with the people, teaching writing classes for industrial plant workers. Of her generation’s suffering, she wrote to her brother, “We marched forth carrying such a heavy baggage of ideals.” After her death from cancer in 1973, at age 39, Reimann garnered cult-like attention. This is her first work of fiction to appear in English.
Brigitte Reimann (1933–73) was a German teacher and writer. Her novel Ankunft im Alltag is regarded as a masterpiece of socialist realism. She received the Heinrich Mann Prize in 1964.
Lucy Jones is a cofounder of Transfiction GbR and has translated Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Brigitte Reimann, Ronald Schernikau, and Silke Scheuermann, among others.
“There is something intoxicating about Reimann’s dense, jagged prose. It conveys hunger for a life that encompasses idealism with desire, the person with the cause, the self with the siblings, and the present with the past, all united by the force of personality.”—The Guardian
“The spirited English-language debut from Reimann (1933–1973) chronicles young love, idealism, and disillusionment in 1960s East Germany.”—Publishers Weekly
“In this 1963 novel by award-winning East German author Reimann, family love is tested by idealism and ideology in a divided Germany… Reimann’s work brings a historical moment convincingly to life.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Reimann was interested in the ‘I’ of the self at a time when the collective ‘we’ dominated—and the tension runs through Siblings...It makes her work feel modern, especially in an age of social media-fuelled self-revelation.”—The Sunday Times
“I’ve never read a book similar to [Brigitte Reimann’s I Have No Regrets] in my entire life, revealing a mixture of shyness, fragility, passion and boldness. It mounts to almost a literary lesson on how the most fragile are entitled to live life to the fullest.”—Adania Shibli, author of Minor Detail
“Her work deserves a much wider reading public outside Germany, where she remains best known for her ambiguously autobiographical final novel Franziska Linkerhand...The eight years of irregular diary entries that make up I Have No Regrets, edited in German by Angela Drescher and now translated into English by Lucy Jones, are a welcome introduction to Reimann’s work.”—Times Literary Supplement
“Reimann left behind a string of novels and several years’ worth of diaries that shed vivid light on life in East Germany from the 1950s to the 1970s.”—Charlie Connelly, The New European