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The German storyteller

Uwe Timm's deceptively light narrative is a mixture of Kazuo Ishiguro, Graham Swift, Woody Allen and James Joyce. He has saved German letters and written the reunification novel

By James Hawes   June 1997

Imagine a london where you find yourself in Roddy Doyle’s Dublin Northside the moment you pass east of Hol- born. Suddenly, words have different meanings; some, you hardly recognise. Bullet-marked buildings witness a shared history you had nearly forgotten; the stonewashed jackets and shell suits, the street cries, the sharp eyes and tanless faces of the population-pinched from low-level malnutrition and drink-shout “second world.” On vast building sites sharp-suited figures are on the make as crime, arms, drugs and danger invade. But more profoundly disturbing than the details is the certain knowledge that here, in what is supposed to be…

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