Contemporary Literature

Altes Land: Roman by Dörte Hansen

By Dörte Hansen

Zwei Frauen, ein altes Haus und eine artwork von Familie

Das „Polackenkind“ ist die fünfjährige Vera auf dem Hof im Alten Land, wohin sie 1945 aus Ostpreußen mit ihrer Mutter geflohen ist. Ihr Leben lang fühlt sie sich fremd in dem großen, kalten Bauernhaus und kann trotzdem nicht davon lassen. Bis sechzig Jahre später plötzlich ihre Nichte Anne vor der Tür steht. Sie ist mit ihrem kleinen Sohn aus Hamburg-Ottensen geflüchtet, wo ehrgeizige Vollwert-Eltern ihre Kinder wie Preispokale durch die Straßen tragen – und wo Annes Mann eine Andere liebt. Vera und Anne sind einander fremd und haben doch viel mehr gemeinsam, als sie ahnen.

Mit scharfem Blick und trockenem Witz erzählt Dörte Hansen von zwei Einzelgängerinnen, die überraschend finden, used to be sie nie gesucht haben: eine Familie.

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Example text

Kristen, as usual, was sitting at her table in the corner behind the register. She’d separated her American Girl doll clothing into different piles, and she seemed content to change her doll from one outfit to the next. Each time she finished, she would look up at him with a bright, innocent expression and ask her daddy how he thought her doll looked now, as if it were possible he would ever say he didn’t like it. Little girls. They could melt the toughest hearts. Alex was straightening some of the condiments when he heard the bell on the front door jingle.

Followed by the Yes, I did. Thank you type of conversation, but instead of fleeing the store like a hunted deer, she sometimes wandered the aisles a bit, and had even begun to talk to Kristen when the two of them were alone. It was the first time he’d seen the woman’s defenses drop. Her easy demeanor and open expression spoke of an affection for children, and his first thought was that he’d glimpsed the woman she once had been and could be again, given the right circumstances. Kristen, too, seemed to notice something different about the woman, because after she left, Kristen had told him that she’d made a new friend and that her name was Miss Katie.

She wore no makeup and knew her face would pick up a bit of color, maybe too much. She reminded herself to buy sunscreen, but after paying rent and utilities on the cottage, there wasn’t much left for luxuries. Even sunscreen was a stretch. Ivan’s was a good job and she was glad to have it, but the food was inexpensive, which meant the tips weren’t great. On her steady diet of rice and beans, pasta and oatmeal, she’d lost weight in the past four months. She could feel her ribs beneath her shirt, and until a few weeks ago, she’d had dark circles under her eyes that she thought would never go away.

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