Jurij Koch: Der Kirschbaum (The Cherry Tree)

The latest addition to my website is Jurij Koch‘s Der Kirschbaum (The Cherry Tree). This is the first Sorbian novel translated into English. Sorbia is a Slavonic enclave in Germany. (At the time this book was written it was in East Germany). A German engineer, Sieghart, comes to Sorbia with colleagues to look for a place to build a reservoir. He gets stuck in the mud at night and a local family puts him up. He is attracted to Ena, the daughter, who is engaged to a local man, Mathias. We see various magic realism elements such as the wedding arranger who seems to be a water sprite and the eponymous cherry tree which plays a key role. When Ena and Sieghart misbehave at the pre-wedding feast of Ena and Mathias, Mathias seeks his revenge. However Mathias may or may not have died as a result. Ena and Sieghart marry and go to Paris for his job but Sorbia and its mysteries follow them to Paris. This is a superb novel integrating a conventional story with folkloric, magic realism and otherworldly elements.

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