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The Tower


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Poetic, heartfelt and dramatic, The Tower vividly resurrects the sights, scents and sensations of life in the GDR as it hurtled towards 9 November 1989.

About the Author

Uwe Tellkamp was born in 1968 in Dresden. After completing his military service, he lost his place to study medicine on the grounds of 'political unreliability'. He was arrested in 1989 but went on to study medicine in Liepzig, Dresden and New York, later becoming a surgeon. He has won numerous regional prizes for poetry, as well as the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for The Sleep in the Clocks. In 2008, he won the German Book Prize for The Tower.


Tellkamp depicts the grotesque idiosyncrasies of the GDR's bureaucracy. He speaks with the slowness and sobriety that comes with growing up in a system where the wrong word at the wrong time can set one's existence ablaze...he displays masterfully the intellectual shackles and the sheer suffocation the younger generation of intellectuals must have felt in the twilight of the GDR * Standpoint *
Memories and impressions grow wild across the lattice of the plot, bringing the symphonic book to - but never over - the brink of cacophony -- Jane Yager * The Times Literary Supplement *
The awfulness of life under the socialist regime is brilliantly done * Sunday Times Culture *
A lush tapestry of characters, composed of a thousand scenes and situations, and punctuated by poetic digressions, The Tower brings a German ghost to life . . . The Tower stands as a monument against forgetting * Le Monde *
In Mike Mitchell's English, Tellkamp's prose is polished, vivid and observationally acute * Telegraph *
Set in the ivory tower inhabited by the educated Dresden bourgeoisie, Uwe Tellkamp's The Tower paints a grandiose panorama of the demise of the GDR * Die Welt *
So blunt, so radical, so void of illusion - life in the GDR has never before been portrayed in such a meticulous way . . . The struggle for materials, the camp mentality, and the ubiquitous mistrust: the GDR rises again in all of its now-almost-forgotten guises * Die Zeit *
There's no way to recommend The Tower enough * The Gryphon *
Chosen by Boyd Tonkin * Independent - Best Fiction in Translation *

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