New Lives

A novel by Ingo Schulze.

Ingo Schulze

East Germany, January 1990. Enrico Türmer — man of the theater, aspiring novelist — has turned his back on the art world and joined a startup newspaper. Before long, the former aesthete and rebel becomes obsessed with personal gain, and in a series of letters to his sister, a friend and a would-be lover, Enrico vividly muses on his capitalist ventures and latent worldly ambitions. As Schulze peels away the layers of Enrico's previous existence, his antihero's reinvention comes to embody all the questionable aspects not only of life in the old Germany, but of life in the Germany just taking form. (From Vintage)

[Saturday, Jan. 6. '90]

[To Vera]

. . . like that?" Instead of trotting along behind us as usual so that he could demand a reward for every step he took, Robert bounded ahead like a puppy. We had to cross a hollow, the snow had a bluish sparkle and came up to our calves. Suddenly Robert gave a yell and started up the opposite slope. The moldy soil beneath the snow had not frozen. Michaela and I were running now too. When we stopped there was only the white field up ahead and grayish pink sky above us. We kept climbing, crossed a dirt road, and made straight for the woods. The wind swept the snow from the winter planting. I had to work hard not to be left behind. But the two of them didn't turn back at the edge of the woods as we had agreed, but entered it. And so I also followed the sign pointing to Silver Lake.

The pond was frozen over. Before I could say anything Robert was skidding across the ice, with Michaela right behind. Robert, who is very proud that his voice is breaking, crowed something that I didn't understand. Michaela shouted that I was chicken. But I didn't want to risk it and stayed onshore. The snow hid most of the trash lying around, but there was a toy horse jutting up out of it. I was just bending down when I heard my name, turned around—and something struck me in the eye. It burned like hell.

I couldn't see anything. Michaela thought I was putting on a show. It was snow, she shouted, just snow, a snowball!

From New Lives by Ingo Schulze ©2009. Published by Vintage.

Interviews with Ingo Schulze

This coming November marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Eleanor speaks with Ingo Schulze about life in post-unification Germany. 52:50