A book that took three installments and 23 years to complete. I think I stumbled on Book One: City of Stones back in 2007 or so, and then got hold Book Two: City of Smoke immediately thereafter, in 2008 when it was out, and had been patiently waiting for the finale, Book Three: City of Light which finally came out this September. All three under one hardcover and read in one go, brilliant.
Deep and sincere, it’s a multi-layered interconnected tale of a big group of people, rich and poor, politically motivated and careless, all residents in the city of Berlin during the Weimar Republic in 1928-1933, the Jazz era, a short intermission for peace, with fascism, intolerance and hatred slowly and masterfully creeping in.
The band is still playing – yet children get hurt, mothers are shot, families break down and turn on each other, free love is persecuted, a tall blond man is marching with a black band on his arm and shiny suspenders in full sight, and then a small man, he with ridiculously trimmed mini-mustache is making a couple of brief cameo appearances here.
Fills your heart with sadness, with loss of liberty, youth and innocence, and with little hope. Lives are wasted, and the city, burnt and captured, cut in two pieces with a butcher’s knife and then sewn back together, the city still stands. Uh-huh. Well, could I expected anything else?