Arnon Grunberg: Tirza


The latest addition to my website is Arnon Grunberg‘s Tirza, finally published in English this year. This is Grunberg’s masterpiece and a first-class piece of writing it is. It tells the story of Jörgen Hofmeester, a publisher’s editor, married and the father of two daughters, Ibi and Tirza. Jörgen drifts through life, as he drifted into his job (and out of it), his marriage (and out of it) and into fatherhood. His wife had walked out around three years ago and he has been left to bring up the two daughters though the eldest had soon left for university. The novel starts with the unexpected appearance of his wife, who has nowhere else to go, though the reunion is far from happy. The following day is Tirza’s birthday party and this brings its own problems, not least because Tirza introduces her boyfriend, a Moroccan called Choukri, who reminds Jörgen of Mohamed Atta. The pair are off to Africa – they choose Namibia as it seems to be the cheapest place to get to – and set off the next day. When Jörgen does not hear from them, he sets off to Namibia to find them. The skill of this book is the portrait of Jörgen, a man not fully into touch with the world and happy to drift through it, despite being a concerned and, generally, good father to his daughters. Grunberg describes his actions in great detail to really show us the man and his foibles, leaving with us with a funny but touching book, superbly written.

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