Homecoming (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
A former judge in the Constitutional Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, a professor of public law and legal philosophy at Berlin’s Humboldt University, an author of several detective mysteries, and an author of the best-selling novel Der Vorleser (1995; The Reader, 1997), Bernhard Schlink definitely has the necessary background to write Homecoming, a fictional investigation into modern history, identity, and legal theory. Besides that, Homecoming gets personal, drawing on autobiographical details and reflecting the fallout from Nazism from which Germans of Schlink’s generation suffered, whereby the sins of the fathers were visited on the sons. Homecoming is centered around a son’s search for such a father, unfortunately one who carries on his Nazi ways even in the United States and in highest academia, as shockingly demonstrated in the novel’s climax.
Before its spectacular climax, however, the novel tends to drag a bit, depending, as it does, on the somewhat dull personality of its main character, Peter Debauer, a law student who never finishes his dissertation, drops out, and, after training to be a masseur, becomes an editor of law books and periodicals in a publishing house. Peter’s personal life has a similar drift and malaise: His mother tries to control him right into middle age, and his various affairs with women are either one-night stands or live-in disasters. For eight years he lives with the...
(The entire section is 1805 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 8 (December 15, 2007): 25.
Bookseller, February 1, 2008, p. 50.
The Economist 386 (January 12, 2008): 74.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 22 (November 15, 2007): 1175.
Library Journal 132, no. 20 (December 15, 2007): 102.
London Review of Books 30, no. 15 (July 31, 2008): 21-24.
The New York Times Book Review, January 13, 2008, p. 14.
The New Yorker 84, no. 7 (March 31, 2008): 129.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 41 (October 15, 2007): 37.
The Spectator 306 (January 12, 2008): 29-30.
The Times Literary Supplement, February 8, 2008, p. 19.
(The entire section is 51 words.)