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Visitation

by Jenny Erpenbeck

An unusual book about a house by a lake in what is to become East Germany, and the people who live in it. Time is moveable, people come and go, things and events are repeated and it reads like poetry. The house is the central character, the people rather shadowy, few names are given but it paints a moving picture of events in Germany and the hardships endured.

Extract

No one in the village knows where he comes from. Perhaps he was always here. He helps the farmers propagate their fruit trees in the spring, inoculating the wild stock with active buds around Midsummer's Day and dormant ones when the sap rises for the second time, he grafts new scions onto the trees chosen for propagation using whip or cleft grafts ... He himself owns no land, not even a patch of forest, he lives alone in an abandoned hunting lodge at the edge of the woods, he's always lived there, everyone in the village knows him, and yet he is only ever referred to by both young people and old as The Gardener, as though he had no other name.
Translated by Susan Bernofsky

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