“García . . . is a skilled writer, crafting a complete story from the threads of many glimpses. In the assembly of these glimpses, she has created a vivid portrait of a decimated yet surging Berlin since World War II, of individuality and humankind, of terror and resilience. It is beautifully written in a fluent and evocative prose. It is the story of how people live with their pasts. A stunning collection of memories, snippets, and specters.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A jarring and haunting choral work of remembrance and pragmatism, pride and regret. The characters, subtly linked by past deeds . . . reveal a staggering array of war and postwar experiences. García, a transcendentally imaginative, piquantly satiric, and profoundly compassionate novelist, dramatizes the helter-skelter of lives ruptured by tyranny, war, and political upheavals with sharp awareness of unlikely multicultural alliances . . . With echoes of W. G. Sebald and Günter Grass, García has created an intricate, sensitive, and provocative montage revolving around the question: “Do people remember only what they can endure, or distort memories until they can endure them?” — Booklist, Donna Seaman (starred review)
With the vividness—and unreliability—of a fevered hallucination, [the] . . . haunting, and occasionally intersecting, stories . . . last only a few pages but linger much longer. García evokes a multicultural Berlin, shaped by those who arrived in East Berlin from Cuba, Angola, and Russia. The novel’s many excellent characters and their stories combine to create a sense of a city where, as an amnesiac photojournalist puts it, the ghosts “aren’t confined to cemeteries.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Here in Berlin is portrait of a city through snapshots, an excavation of the stories and ghosts of contemporary Berlin; its complex, troubled past still pulsing in the air as it was during the years of World War II. Critically acclaimed novelist Cristina Garcia brings the people of this famed city alive, their stories bristling with regret, desire, and longing.
An unnamed Visitor travels to Berlin with a camera looking for reckonings of her own. The city itself is a character—vibrant and post-apocalyptic, flat and featureless except for its rivers, its lakes, its legions of bicyclists. Here in Berlin she encounters a people’s history: the Cuban teen taken as a POW on a German submarine for five months, only to return home to a family who doesn’t believe him; the young Jewish scholar whose husband hides her in a sarcophagus until he can find them safe passage to England; the female lawyer haunted by a childhood of deprivation in the bombed-out suburbs of Berlin who still defends those accused of war crimes, setting personal guilt against the larger flow of history; a young nurse with a checkered past who joins the Reich on the Russian front, at a medical facility more intent to dispense with the wounded than to heal them; and the son of a zookeeper at The Berlin Zoo, fighting to keep the animals safe from both war and an increasingly starving populace.
A meditation on war and mystery in the spirit of Christopher Isherwood and Robert Walser’s classic Berlin Stories, this an exciting new work by one of our most gifted novelists, one that seeks to align the stories of the past with the stories of the future.