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Return to Book Page. Warum das Kind in der Polenta kocht by Aglaja Veteranyi. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published by Dtv first published More Details Original Title. Schlegel-Tieck Prize for Vincent Kling Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Warum das Kind in der Polenta kocht , please sign up.
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Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Warum das Kind in der Polenta kocht. Aphorism laden novels have a tendency to catch my eye and make me want to read them, but they don't always deliver the goods. What kind of child wonders what God smells like, or finds solace in the fact that no matter what country her and her family find themselves in they still eat with their mouths? We're dead a lot longer than we're alive; that's why we need a whole lot more good luck when we're dead people.
The narrator is a young girl whose mother and stepfather escaped from the poverty and oppression of Romania to the West. They are a circus family. Her mother hangs from her hair and does tricks. The stepfather is a clown. What does rich mean? He'll be named Chin-Chan and look out for me, and I won't be afraid anymore. And everybody will be surprised. The family dreams of a better life, but they are incapable of getting anywhere close to achieving it.
The stepfather beats on the family and has an incestuous relationship with his genetic daughter, and possibly with the narrator, but this is never made explicit but it's possible from the childlike perceptions that things aren't as they should be between her and her stepdad. The writing captures a childlike perspective well, a childhood forged in poverty and a lack of education, with travelling and a borderline outlaw sort of existence. It mixes the elements of the orthodox religion of her mother's family with the the fairy tales she hears and tries to make sense of the world with a perspective that doesn't always know or maybe just doesn't want know the difference between the fantastical and the real.
As a thread running through the story is the story her family would tell her about the child who was cooking in the polenta, and her constant attempts to figure out why the child would end up in the polenta, was it the child's guilt that led her there?
The parents? Was it an accident, or something horrific that had to be done to the child because the child is the type that deserves to die. As the novel goes on she re-interrupts the story again and again, and as the story progresses new details are added and she takes delight in making her older sister add more gruesome details to what happens to the child once it is cooking in the polenta. I'm not doing a great job selling this book to you, am I?
So much about this book could have failed, and it toed the line between being a success and a gimmicky novel is this the right word, gimmicky? It could have been precocious, and it could have wallowed in the muck of incest and abuse, but even when the narrator says something like, "No man has touched me where it counts.
I think about nothing else. I want to be raped by two men at the same time. In the twisted world the girl has grown up in she is twelve maybe thirteen at the time and her mother has gotten her employed to dance naked in some kind of circus show, and has glued on pubic hair to make her appear older , it's more just another element of the sadness of her life than an edgy thing. Again what child thinks of things like this? What leads a child to think like this? The book is at least semi-autobiographical.
The author was part of a circus family that escaped from Romania and eventually found refuge in Switzerland. The author also ended up killing herself at the age of forty even though on the surface she was enjoying considerable success in the theater and won a prestigious prize for this novel. Exactly how much of the book is autobiographical I have no idea, but according to the essay at the end of the book the basic outline of the narrators life is the same as the novelist's.
I'd pictured happiness differently. View all 4 comments. There's also a welcome explanatory essay at the end by the translator that includes a lot of bio info. Was worried at first that it might feel false, overly whimsical, like one of those cute, quirky, psychosexually violent indie films, but then once I became aware of how the story synched with the author's story she too performed in the circus as a Romanian refugee -- and ultimately killed herself in , reality kicked in and the cuteness became armor, the humor reinforced with steel.
Another in the ever-lengthening list of crazy European novels narrated by kids exposed to cruelties and brutalities, whose innocence is warped by experience but ultimately retained in an up-with-people way that complicates the notion that humanity just sorta sucks -- definitely worth a look, even for those like me who prefer not to encounter underage narrators.
View 1 comment. May 04, Ms. Smartarse by: Ema. Shelves: communism , mid-xx-century , audiobook , german , magical-realism , spiritual , horror , drama , audible. We follow the life of a young girl of indeterminate age, as she travels the world in a circus with her parents, aunt and sister. We are privy to her inner thoughts, akin to reading a diary, as she makes some funny and some increasingly ominous remarks about the people around her.
The whole experience is peppered by the protagonist's reaction to a creepy little story, told by her sister. In said story a child somehow finds itself cooking in the polenta. At first, the protagonist is content to keep pestering her sister about the reason for the child's predicament.
But later, as her own life is steadily taking a turn for the worse, she comes up with increasingly unbelievable and horrifying scenarios by means of an explanation. I'm not entirely sure that opting for the audible version was the best medium for the book. This version can be more accurately characterized as a dramatization of the story, rather than the audio version of the book.
Unfortunately it was the only digital medium that I could find in this language, and I really wanted to read the book in German Always a big plus.
Score: 4. This is probably thanks to the excellent voice acting, both easy to understand as well as suitably creepy. I'm not giving it 5 stars however, as the audible version uses multiple voice actors for the main character. At one point it made me wonder if there were actually 5 different narrators, instead of just one.
Strongly autobiographical, this little novel is narrated by a child born into a family of Romanian circus performers, who flee communist Romania in the s and travel through Europe and Africa in hopes of a brighter future. They live the life of refugees, of strangers struggling to adapt to a foreign world, whose everyday existence is consumed by uncertainty and fear: the parents' fear of being sent back home, the father's fear of the tightrope as the girl says, he can only maintain his equil Strongly autobiographical, this little novel is narrated by a child born into a family of Romanian circus performers, who flee communist Romania in the s and travel through Europe and Africa in hopes of a brighter future.
They live the life of refugees, of strangers struggling to adapt to a foreign world, whose everyday existence is consumed by uncertainty and fear: the parents' fear of being sent back home, the father's fear of the tightrope as the girl says, he can only maintain his equilibrium while drunk , the family's concern that someone will copy their artistic number and push them out of their jobs.
The most poignant sense of fear, which discreetly permeates even the most hopeful passages, comes, however, from the girl and her half-sister who worry that their mother might die during her dangerous act of hanging by her hair from the trapeze. I apologize in advance for the clumsy translation; it's not my strong suit.
Dar nu ajuta la nimic. Nu strig. When I imagine the child cooking in the polenta and how bad it must hurt, I stop thinking all the time that mother could fall from up there, she says. But it's not helping. I always need to think about mother's death lest it take me by surprise. I watch her as she sets her hair on fire with lit torches, as she falls to the ground, laughing. And when I lean towards her, her face crumbles and turns into ashes.
I don't scream. I've thrown my mouth away. The prose almost leaps into poetry and seems as uncertain and unconventional as the author's life.
De ce fierbe copilul în mămăligă
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De ce fierbe copilul in mamaliga