The German Room by Carla Maliandi
Carla Maliandi’s debut novel, released in English by Charco Press, is a tale of fear, isolation and belonging powered by viciously perceptive prose.
Carla Maliandi’s debut novel, translated by Frances Riddle, explores the harrowing but hopeful experience of displacement. The narrator has fled her previous life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has moved back to Heidelberg, Germany, the city where she was born. She seeks peace, and distance from her troubles, but her situation is one which she cannot long outrun. Pregnant, and on a seemingly futile mission to recover her childhood happiness, the narrator must confront the difficult question of what it really means to belong. Told from the perspective of a nameless woman, The German Room reflects on her struggle to find her place in the world.
Maliandi’s prose is viciously perceptive, and manages to capture a heady mix of excitement and nostalgia – a recognisable recipe to anyone who has experienced sudden new beginnings. The narrative is simple and the characters fresh, tangible and bright. As the narrator finds her place in Heidelberg so too does the reader, which only emphasises the cruel irony of their displacement back to their previous lives once the novel is through.
Like many of Charco’s novels, The German Room is short, but manages so much more than a novel of 1000 pages could ever dream. This is a journey of fear, of isolation and of transcending culture to find that which lies at the very root of humanity: the desire to belong. Carla Maliandi speaks to the soul, and to anybody who has ever thought of starting over.
The German Room is out now via Charco Press, £9.99