On September 18, 2006, the twenty-one-year-old Czech Adina leaves the Liberec bus station with a belt bag, a 50-liter rucksack and lots of hope for the future. Her bus is going "in the right direction", to Germany, where Angela Merkel is the first woman to head the government. From the off, as it were, Antje Rávik Strubel switched a few sentences from the government declaration to the scene that Merkel had already made in November 2005: “Let us forego the practiced rituals, the reflexive outcry, if we want to change something. Nobody can stop us from breaking new ground. "
Adina, who you met twenty years ago in Rávik Strubel's episodic novel “Unter Schnee” as “the last teenager from Harrachov”, the small ski resort thirty kilometers southeast of Bautzen, does not know this speech. She only knows Merkel's voice on the radio. But she, who is taking a language course in Berlin, wants to study later and looks at everything new with the fearlessness of a naturalist, courageously as on her breakneck deep snow descents with a flashing headlamp at home in the Giant Mountains, would passionately affirm every sentence: a strong woman on Beginning of the new millennium.
Less than two years later, Adina, severely traumatized, is hiding in a prefabricated building in Helsinki after the brutal rape by a high-ranking German cultural manager and a breathless escape in which she left three borders and three languages behind. "She is in a country that she does not know, in a country in the north, where the trees are different and the people speak a different language, where the water tastes different and the horizon has no color."
Antje Rávik Strubel has more in her novel, dedicated to her friend and mentor Silvia Bovenschen, who died in 2017, which is the psychogram of a woman struggling for her own identity and at the same time a broad European social panorama during the MeToo era, as she notes in the afterword than eight years worked. It is probably her boldest narrative achievement since she received the Ernst Willner Prize in Klagenfurt in 2001 for an excerpt from her debut album “Offene Blende”.
Adina's story is developed over four parts of the novel, each with a different tonality, in different main locations between Helsinki, Berlin and the eastern Uckermark and with changing staff in the foreground.
The story is not narrated in a linear fashion, but in an ingenious alternation of predictions and associative fragments of memory.
In the Finnish capital, where the novel begins, the reader must first accompany the protagonist all the way down.
As if poking through fog, a deeply injured woman struggles, "her wrists loose, as if torn from their anchorages" to gain access to her life, which is in tatters.
What remains, besides nightmares, revenge fantasies and Viru Valge, the ice-cold Finnish soul comforter?
A sound that came from death
There are short cuts of the rather dreary post-reunification childhood of a girl at the foot of the Krkonoše, who is just five at the time of the Velvet Revolution.
After the death of the partisan grandfather, Adina grew up among women and was only warmed by the digital campfire of a chat room in which she called herself “the last of the Mohicans”.
When she feels the warrior from Cooper's classic, she feels free and without fear, beyond any gender determination.
And finally there is the Estonian EU diplomat Leonides Siilmann, who falls in love with her in the hotel bar where Adina works illegally.
The encounter with the fine-minded professor, who instead of Virginia Woolf reads Zygmunt Baumann or Umberto Eco and wants to uncover the “dark spots” of Stalinism, is for Adina a deep breath, a breath - nothing more.Keywords: offene blende''.adina, antje rávik strubel, violence, novel, angela merkel, story, power, fall, abyss, suffering, problem, consequences, powerlessness, bus station, blue woman