stein

The latest addition to my website is Clemens Meyer‘s Im Stein [In Stone]. This book has been much discussed in Germany for its controversial depiction of a fictitious East German city, focussing on the underbelly of the city. The key element is prostitution and Meyer gives us a vivid description of the prostitutes themselves, their clients and the pimps who claim not to be pimps but businessmen. He focusses on one such “businessman”, Arnie Kraushaar, and his “girls”, as he calls them. Though the prostitutes figure strongly in the book, drugs, petty (and one or two not so petty) criminals, the police and various other denizens of the night and shadows are also depicted. It is a long book but, to all intents and purposes, has no real plot and while Meyer’s writing is superb and its descriptions first-class, I did find that swathes of descriptions sometimes left me longing for more to happen. Maybe that is just a weakness of mine, as critics have generally loved it and it has been shortlisted for the German Book Prize for this year (link in German – see Katy Derbyshire’s discussion of the longlist for a description in English). It has not been translated – only a collection of his stories, translated by the aforementioned Katy Derbyshire has been translated into English of his works – but I would suspect that it will be.