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Close to death, an old man collapses and struggles to his bed. The sounds of the endless night unsettle him, triggering images, questions, and memories. In What Darkness Was, Inka Parei, author of The Shadow-Boxing Woman, allows the reader to inhabit a singular German mind. Precise and observant—but uncomprehending and on the brink of hysteria—the old man wracks his brain as the questions flow like water: why did he inherit the building he now lives in? Why did he leave the city that was his home for so long? Is he even here voluntarily? And who was that suspicious stranger on the stairs? Lying in bed, the old man is aware that these questions may be the last puzzles he ever solves.
Combining tight prose with a compulsive delight in detail, Parei’s second novel in English presents a dynamic portrait of the West German soul from World War II through the German Autumn of 1977.