2015 Longlist

In Times of Fading Light


Translated from the original German by Anthea Bell

2015 Longlist

A sweeping story of one family over fifty years and four generations in East Germany.

In Times of Fading Light begins in 2001 as Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s.

The novel then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the family’s history: from Alexander’s grandparents’ return to the GDR to build the socialist state to his father’s decade spent in a Gulag for criticising the Soviet regime to his son’s desire to leave the political struggles of the twentieth century in the past.

With wisdom, humour and great empathy, and drawing on his own family history, Eugen Ruge majestically traces the stories of both this particular family and the GDR, while exploring the tragic intertwining of politics, love and family under the East German regime.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Eugen Ruge was born in the Urals and studied mathematics in Berlin. Before leaving the GDR for the West in 1988 he was a writer, contributing to documentaries made at the state-owned DEFA Studios. Since 1989 he has been writing and translating for theatres and broadcasters, and periodically teaches at the Berlin University of the Arts. In Times of Fading Light is his first novel and won the 2011 German Book Prize.

About the Translator

Anthea Bell works as a translator of German and French into English. She has received many awards for her work including the 2002 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Schlegel-Tieck prize. In 2010 she was awarded an OBE for her “services to literature and literary translations”.

Librarians’ Comments

This novel tells the story of a communist family from the grandparents’ exile in Mexico during the Second World War, in times of the GDR until the reunification of Germany and later on. Eugen Ruge’s novel was a bestseller in Germany and earned many important literary prizes. It succeeds in sheding light on communist Germany and the breakdown of the communist idea by telling the story of a family in a dramatically cleverly elaborated manner.

In Times of Fading Light won the German Book Prize in 2011. In his autobiographical story, Ruge tells a family saga about three generations of a family in East Germany over a period of fifty years. The grandparents are staunch communists, the parents are victims of Stalinism and son Kurt lives in the GDR in deep frustration, together with his Russian wife Irina. In Times of Fading Light is the authors first novel.

German history in a pulsing, vibrant and alive work! The GDR seen from a suburban kitchen in a bestselling and prize-winning novel. Strong characters with the ability to catch the impact of history through the movement of their minds.

This novel authentically chronicles some five decades after World War 2 and narrates the turn of events in an East-German family’s four generations as well as the collapse of a political era and a country.



Faber and Faber


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