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Welcome to our blog, where we explore all things literary and give you book reviews that read like narratives. This is Bookshelf Stories.

The Past Isn't Past: Here in Berlin by Christina García

The Past Isn't Past: Here in Berlin by Christina García

We tend toward a uniform view of Germany in the 1940s. It's easier for our human brains to lump everyone in together as Nazis, either of the devout ideologue or self-preservationist sort. Christina García's novel, Here in Berlin, is here to helpfully trounce those archetypes for us.

It's interesting to me that she's called her book a novel, given its structure. The book goes back and forth between the third person narrative of a visitor to Berlin (called 'The Visitor') and first person voices telling about their lives in Berlin, primarily around the time of the Second World War -- although there are forays to different times and places, to Cuba and to East Berlin for instance. But it works for me: as a reader, it's a pleasure to hear the chorus of voices which García masterfully differentiates. 

The anonymity of the protagonist allows us to see her mostly through what this cast of characters says about her, to her, and what parts of themselves they choose to reveal to the Visitor. We gather our impressions from multiple sources, not unlike walking through Berlin itself.

Growing Up Gatsby: Fitzgerald's Unshakable Midwesternness

Growing Up Gatsby: Fitzgerald's Unshakable Midwesternness

Into Oblivion: By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño

Into Oblivion: By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño