Thank you to Joe Christie from Quercus for giving me the opportunity to join the blog tour and sending me an advance readers copy. All views are my own
What if your friend would ask you for your help? Would you say yes even though you are in over your head? How far are you willing to go for your friendship? Would you help them cover up a murder?
Back in January I had come across a little book titled ‘Dear Child’. The cover was the first thing that drew me towards the novel, having never heard of its author, Romy Hausmann. January was a month where I wanted desperately to go back to my roots, to spending hours upon hours discovering the German literature in high school, reading the small printed Reklam Ausgaben that had the colorful covers that looked more like collectibles. I had instantly made a connection with Hausmann and after finishing Dear Child I had to write a review about it. Back then little did I know that Quercus probably had already started to work on Hausmann’s debut – Marta Schläft – and mentioned even in my review that I hoped this would be translated.
Of course I didn’t have any patience and had a friend of mine in Berlin go and buy the German edition of the book. ( I think that book got lost in transit since it never reached me in the UK -.-” ) But then I found out that Quercus was going to publish Marta Schläft (trans. Sleepless) and it was happening sooner than I thought. And I made myself a promise, that if a blog tour would be organised, I had to be part of it.
Thankfully and thanks to Joe Christie who was kind enough to make my dream come true, I was allowed to take part in the amazing blog tour for this novel and now the time has come for me to share my thoughts on Sleepless.
With a strong publishing debut, Hausmann solidifies her status as the Queen of German suspense; proving her skills and abilities as a writer.
Meine Gütte did I enjoy Sleepless. Usually when it comes to debuts, I spot from the very first few pages that this is the first book someone has written. However with Sleepless, I never had that feeling; Hausmann brilliantly executing a complex narrative told from three points of view and on three different timelines.
The story follows the events in the life of Nadja who has been raised in Poland but now lives in Berlin. Her childhood wasn’t the best but she is now ready (or at least to a certain degree) ready to leave the past in the past and focus on her future. She is living a some-what normal life. Nadja has a job, and an apartament, however living is not as easy as it is for others. Battling with mental health issues and anxiety, Nadja finds it at times difficult to go on the subway, doesn’t like large groups of people and in the eyes of others her living conditions aren’t the best.
But to a certain degree Nadja is on the path of getting better. That’s until her friend one day appears at her work and tells her she needs her help. Nadja doesn’t hesitate to help her and why should she? Her therapist had told her she needs to make connections, and build friendships. But with what her so called friend needs help with isn’t opening a jar or help clean out the house of unnecessary things that she gathered without noticing. It’s with hiding a body.
The story from here on unravels in rapid successions. Multiple POVs contribute to fill in the picture about Nadja’s past and how she got to be who she is today. I’m not going to spoil the ending but all I’m going to let you know is that it is worth every moment.
The way Hausmann structured the novel I think is genius. We start somwhere in the middle of the story, without any context. We don’t know what’s happening only that things are happening. I found the moment to open the story perfect because it gave plenty of time and opportunity to give sufficient information to the reader whilst allowing for the current timeline to flow naturally. It also helped the overall ARC of the story to avoid any soggy middles by turning up the dial on the tension in the present moment and making the readers ask themselves how someone cold end in such a terrible position.
Sleepless, if I hadn’t known it was Hausmann’s debut, I would have been certain that it was written by an experienced writer that has penned many novels before. Simply from the structure adopted, I can only imagine how a difficult of a task it has been for Hausmann to strike the perfect balance that she has achieved. Now, thinking back to it, I should’ve known that Hausmann is a master storyteller from reading the intricate and yet effortlessly executed Dear Child.
Sleepless is definitely a great read for anyone who wants to see what German thrillers are all about. And paired with Jamie Bulloch’s translation, it is a perfect read for new readers of translated fiction as well as hard core lovers of the genre. Sleepless is now out everywhere where good books are sold and you should definitely check it out.
Please make sure you check out the other amazing reviewers who are part of this blog tour as well as check out Duncan’s review from Fiction from Afar who is my go to person when it comes to translated fiction reviews.