The Weekend


The Weekend

THE WEEKEND by Berhard Schlink

When I opened this book after collecting it from the library, I wondered why I had wanted to read it. I was on the waiting list for so long that I had forgotten not only who recommended the book to me but also what it was about. I got it home, opened it up, and thought “I don’t want to read this book”. The subject matter didn’t appeal. How wrong I was!

“Old friend and lovers re-unite for a weekend in a secluded country house, after decades spent apart…

After twenty-four years, Jörg, a convicted murderer and terrorist, has been released from prison. The announcement will send shockwaves through Germany. But first his friends – Baader-Meinhof sympathisers or those who clung to them – gather to celebrate Jörg’s freedom.”

I am of an age that can remember Baader-Meinhof and the atrocities they committed in the name of ideology, and student revolt, so not good reading material, I thought.

Berhhard Schlink was born in 1944.  Baader-Meinhof was most active between 1968 and 1977 so Schlink would have been aware of their activities at that time in Germany.

The old terrorist sympathisers , who now have very  ordinary occupations, Dental Technician Ulrich , lawyer Andreas, journalist Henner, Pastor Karin, school teacher Ilsa, Christiane,  and her friend Margarete,  are gathered for the weekend. Jörg is experiencing his first taste of freedom when they are joined by the radical, idealistic, Jörg worshipping Marko whose agenda to change the world includes a fired-up, washed-up, old terrorist. Christiane, older sister, mother, lover – in thought, if not in deed, their relationship was very incestuous – has other ideas for her little brother. She wants the impossible.

Schlink, through the person of Ilsa, takes us to The Twin Towers and 9/11. The message I got from Schlink’s treatises on terrorists is the fact that not one of them can be trusted, that it is a world where friend betrays friend and enemy alike.

The conclusion of this book, and no, I will let you read it for yourself, makes it clear that even radicals and terrorists, if they live long enough, that is, have to grow up sometime.

Title: The Weekend

Author: Bernhard Schlink

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010

Originally Published as: Das Wochende, by Diogenes Verlag AG. Zurich, 2008

Translation by: Shaun Whiteside, 2010


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