German novel about a sculptor who may have witnessed a murder reveals a disturbing, hallucinatory world in which perception is as fluid as blood.
Albin, a young sculptor, is not having a good time. Coerced into vacationing in Turkey with his live-in girlfriend Livia and a group of her friends, he’s drinking too much and watching their relationship disintegrate. Livia, a photographer, knows her boyfriend is deteriorating, and so when he tells her that he has seen a man shot by an unseen assailant on a neighboring hotel’s balcony, she doesn’t know what to believe. She’s focused on her art, which shows her life’s downsides and features the carcasses of dead dogs and goats. Livia is unsure about how much life is left in her relationship with Albin, who is barely functioning in the present. The child of an abusive, alcoholic father, he flashes back to childhood memories in which he dissociates: “Mother” becomes “the petite woman” as he watches her beaten and raped, while his own abuse is blanked out. “Your brother ran into a tree,” his mother explains to his siblings. “I was lying on a bench. . . . My shirt was covered in blood.” Countering these heated images, and the mystery of the murder, are the reserved observations of their colleague Olaf. Another narrator, Olaf, recounts in a straightforward manner what the rest of their small group has to say. “This sculptor and his photographer girlfriend—if you ask me, Olaf, they’re through with each other.” But although Olaf’s narrative seems logical, the concrete viewpoint in this story of shifting realities, his view of events is incomplete: “What did Albin do in Düsünülen Yer?” he asks. “We never succeeded in finding out.” People disappear and lives go on, but unsettling shadows haunt them all.
Confusing at times, disturbing at others, Peters’s work rewards the challenge of reading with lasting, moody reflections.