In Times of Fading Light begins in September 2001 as Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s.
The novel then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the family’s history: from Alexander’s grandparents’ return to the GDR to build the socialist state, to his father’s decade spent in a gulag for criticizing the Soviet regime, to his son’s desire to leave the political struggles of the twentieth century in the past.
With wisdom, humor, and great empathy, Eugen Ruge draws on his own family history as he masterfully brings to life the tragic intertwining of politics, love, and family under the East German regime.
“A novel full of the wisdom of experience.” —Die Zeit
“Ruge’s characters have a fully rounded existence beyond their own period. Perhaps for that very reason, he tells us more about the GDR and the difficulties of life there than all the books analyzing its ideologies and the harsh reality. The time is ripe for this clear, humorous, and understanding look at the subject.” —Die Tageszeitung
“Outstanding . . . A fascinating inside view of the GDR.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“The real miracle of this novel . . . lies in how he does each of his characters justice, in precise, unpretentious language, based entirely on observations and the importance of things, smells, [and] gestures. There is no reason to mourn the GDR as a state, but there are a lot of reasons to tell the story of successful or wasted lives with fine black humor.” —Die Welt
About the Author
Eugen Ruge won the 2011 German Book Prize for In Times of Fading Light, his debut novel, which became a bestseller in Germany and has been translated into twenty languages. Anthea Bell is a prizewinning translator.