The modern German classic that has shaped an entire generation.
A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table.
In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on, we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart. ------ 'I wrote this book in August 1989, just before the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
I wanted to understand how revolutions start. It seemed logical to use the figure of a tyrannical father and turn the story into a German family saga.' Birgit Vanderbeke ------ Why Peirene chose to publish this book: 'I love this monologue.
It's the first Peirene book which made me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes.
The author lays bare the contradictory logic of an inflexible mind.
This is a poignant yet hilarious narrative with a brilliant ending.' Meike Ziervogel, Publisher
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 112 pages
- Publisher: Peirene Press Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/02/2013
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781908670083
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by writestuff
Review by teresa1953
Written in Germany in August 1989 , just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this entriguing monologue is simple in it's telling, but huge in it's comprehension and impact.One evening, a mother and her two teenage children are awaiting the anticipated return from work of the patriach of the family. Everything has been prepared and set out as usual on the dinner table, but tonight they are having mussels. Tonight is to be a celebration. A surefire promotion is expected and they are waiting for him to announce the wonderful "news." Uncharacteristically, of father there is no sign. Why is he late? Why no phone call explaining his delay? As the mussels are cooked and allowed to go cold and a bottle of Spatllese is opened and consumed by all three, the atmosphere subtly changes. Told from the daughter's perspective, the lives of these seemingly ordinary people are pulled apart and, glimpse by glimpse, the reader begins to realise that things are not what they seem. As expected from the wonderful Peirene, a justifiably respected publisher who go from strength to strength in their choice of impeccably translated European fiction, this is another jewel in their crown. This modern German classic by multi award winning Birgit Vanderbeke displays subtle storytelling, which suddenly delivers a virtual punch to the face to the unsuspecting reader, "The Mussel Feast" is a must read and highly recommended.
Review by JosephCamilleri
We are in (West) Germany, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The father of the family is expected home from a business trip with news of a long-awaited promotion. His dutiful wife has prepared a celebratory meal - the mussel feast of the title. It is his favourite dish, but one that his wife, grown-up daughter and teenage son do not particularly like. The father, a slave to his idea of perfection, is uncharacteristically late. As they wait around the table, and the wine flows, the family members finally start to admit to each other that their "perfect household" is not so perfect after all. Narrated by the daughter in a conversational stream-of-consciousness style, this is an increasingly bleak and emotionally painful read, made bearable by its irony and wry humour. A brilliant novella which is also a not-so-veiled allegory to the political situation at the time of its writing (1989).