Bittersweet tales by the author of the »Pollen Room«
These characters may appear fragile, but they demonstrate unexpected strength. The ground trembles beneath their feet, but they do not fall: they strike out in moments of danger, and escape their cages as soon as they feel the wind beneath their wings.
Ginza, for example, who asserts her independence by sharing a tiny flat with friends and working as a tourist guide in the vibrant, overwhelming megacity of Shangai. Or Sophie, a shy woman in her fifties, whose headstrong daughter Clarice brings her photographer boyfriend on a visit to the family’s summer cottage. It comes as a surprise when Sophie suddenly blossoms under the camera’s gaze, upsetting the family balance.
Mike, a young stepfather to two girls, is quietly fighting for recognition. His wife has very clear ideas about how her daughters should be raised: she only buys organic food, and throws out any clothes made of polyester. Mike secretly takes his stepdaughters to an ice cream parlour, in a battle for life’s sweetness that he can never hope to win. In another story, young Elena, watching a black condor crane his skinny, vulnerable neck, as he struggles to fly inside his cage, is reminded of her elopement.
Beneath each of Zoë Jenny’s soft sentences lie darkness and profundity, pervading them with a subtle melancholy. Fear of loss and the awareness of vulnerability resonate just below the surface, and we sense that the characters in her stories are deeply troubled - but their power should not be underestimated. Zoë Jenny captivates the reader with these haunting, bittersweet tales.
Zoë Jenny was born in Basel in 1974 and spent parts of her childhood in Greece and Ticino. Her first novel, »The Pollen Room« (FVA 1997), was a global bestseller and has been translated into 27 languages. Following this success, Zoë Jenny was invited to give readings and talks at schools and universities in Japan, China and the U.S. She has lived in New York, Berlin and London, and currently resides in Austria. She has published two more novels – »The Call of the Conch Shell« (FVA 2000) and »The Portrait« (FVA 2007). »Spätestens morgen« is her first short story collection.