Bronsteins Kinder
book — Germany — 1986

I was surprised to find out that I had previously read three and not two novels by Jurek Becker (I had completely forgotten that "Sleepless Nights" was also one of his works). And I was even more surprised to read (on this very website) that I had liked all three of them. And as all previous entries on this writer are in English it seemed impolite to write in Latvian this one (not that it made any difference anyhow).

"Bronsteins Children" is not a novel about the children of some fellow named Bronstein, although it also could be possible if we take into account that Bronstein was the real last name of Lev Trotsky, so theoretically Becker could had written a novel about either followers of Trotskyism or about the Red Army which was (although most communists prefer to ignore it) formed by tovarish Trotsky.

Sorry, ignore the previous paragraph. The hero of this novel IS a person with the last name Bronstein but for some reason it didn`t occur to me previously. So I fucked up, sorry. So this fellow Hans Bronstein is a Jew. Yup, that`s one of those Becker`s novels about Jews and about Holocaust and it has a bit of a resemblance with Bernhard Schlink`s "The Reader" (which can in some ways be considered a plagiarism of this one), although there are some notable differences. For example, Hans who is 18 years old in one part of the novel and 19 in the other (both these parts are intercut within the book) does not go to bed with a former nazi concentration camp guard, and he himself is a Jew and not a German like in the other book. But there IS a nazi guard involved in the story and the main hero has a moral dilemma because of that person. Still there are some additions - Hans also has a girlfriend who is not a former Nazi (as she like him is a Jew) and he has a crazy sister and a strange father (who dies at the end of the book but we know about his death from the beginning, it just takes some time to understand the circumstances of his death).

The themes present in this novel are nothing too special for books on this subject and Becker even includes references on the leading character`s unhappiness with too many films being made about the Holocaust. Personally I found this book quite interesting, maybe not the best of Becker`s works that I`ve read, but good nevertheless. He certainly knew how to spin a story. I may not be too much of a fan of Holocaust books (and films) but this time at least I did not get the feeling of being fed the same story for the 20th time, and that was a huge plus of this book. Still I consider "Jacob the Liar" to be his best work, but so far it seems to me that all books by Becker are worth checking out and don`t disappoint the reader (me, not "The Reader" as in the Schlink novel).
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