In an autumnal love story of erotic obsession, possessiveness, remembrance, oblivion, and time, an elderly woman dwells upon a failed love affair of some time past, when she was no longer young but not yet old. The narrator relives meeting her lover, Franz, at the natural history museum, when, for the first time in her life, she experiences all-consuming love and absolute happiness. Ultimately the affair founders because of her inability to believe that Franz will actually leave his wife. After he disappears from her life, she withdraws from the world, waiting for his return and revisiting their time together over and over in a never-ending cycle of obsession. Her love for Franz becomes a compulsive suffering from which she can neither free herself nor withhold anything.
"Maron's exquisite language, highlighted at times by lyrical flourish, retains much of its splendor in English, thanks to the fine translation by Brigitte Goldstein. While it certainly ranks among the most interesting novels to have emerged from Germany since unification, Animal Triste has an allure that extends beyond its sociopolitical context. Maron's concerns revolve around the healing not only of a broken nation but also around that of a broken heart.”—New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review
"An elegiac novel by contemporary German writer Monika Maron in which one great, late-life love affair possesses the mind and soul of the elderly narrator. . . . Merging into one blurred obsessive dream, her memories take on a life of their own."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] disturbing but erotic novel of remembrance. . . . Examining the relationship between passion and our instinctive animal selves, Maron demonstrates how we can allow ourselves to be driven by love to defy both social rules and our own natural instinct for survival."—Booklist
"The impact of the changed historical sphere on the writing subject is described with bittersweet self-irony but with full appreciation of a passionate life lived. Brigitte Goldstein . . . offers the English reader a translation close to the original, thereby retaining the subtle ironic undertones. Describing the difficult relationship between West and East in terms of lovers unable to meet each other is not new, but the way the text leads the reader to the final showdown is remarkable."—Irena E. Fürhoff, International Fiction Review
Irena E. Fürhoff
International Fiction Review