February 21, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Accident: A Day’s News, A Novel

By |2018-03-21T18:27:12+01:00March 1st, 2007|Recent Reviews|

By Christa Wolf, translated from the German by Heike Schwarzbauer and Rick Takvorian

University of Chicago Press, 1987 (2001). 121 pages.


olf’s Gattling-gun novel — author as consciousness and consciousness as author — owes its existence to the 1986 Chernobyl reactor accident and Ronald Reagan’s proposed “Star Wars” missile defense system.

As a radioactive cloud contaminates European milk and vegetables, a rural writer anxiously awaits news of her younger brother’s brain surgery. Brain anatomy is rationally dissected (both grossly and insidiously) against the backdrop of irrational human decision-making (“the dark side of our nature, from which we can never liberate ourselves except through death and destruction.”) Wolf, an East German dissident for decades, is an existential skeptic: “Language which creates identity but which, at the same time, makes a decisive contribution to the dismantling of the inhibition about killing that member of the species who speaks differently.”

Her gift is metabolizing current events to a story that mixes political diatribe with a heartfelt rumination on the quintessence of folly, and hope.

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