COMPAGNA CUCULO by Anke Feuchtenberger

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There are truths, sometimes even those of History, that can only be told in the form of hallucination or dream. Rooted in this certainty, “Comrade Cuckoo” is at once a coming-of-age novel, a raw examination of a collective past, and an ode to a captivating, fragile, and terrifying nature. In this monumental work, which the author has been developing over the past two decades, animals often blend with humans, sprouting allegories whose interpretation is as necessary as it is indefinitely open.

The story begins in the 1960s and unfolds in a village in East Germany, still haunted by the ghosts of World War II and darkened by the shadow of the communist regime. A claustrophobic yet teeming with life scenario, where Kerstin and her friend Effi grow up together; the former abandoned by her parents, who are Party officials, to the care of a cold and strict grandmother, and the latter neglected by her mother involved in ambiguous dealings.

As an adult, Kerstin will find her redemption just as the Berlin Wall crumbles, making way for a new life. Only then, and after her grandmother’s death, will she be able to return to the old village in search of the missing pieces to make sense of her own childhood and that of Effi, the lost friend. She will discover that the past hides even more terrible secrets than her frightened child’s mind could have imagined.

In her hypnotic investigation, Anke Feuchtenberger tackles complex issues such as the female condition, political oppression, abandoned and abused childhood, and the bloody grind of History, but she does so with the intimate voice of one who whispers a secret in your ear. And, above all, with a profound and organic drawing style that mixes symbolic density and sensory immediacy, compulsive obsessions, and a more orderly melancholy, tinged with surreal humor.

Text by Alessio Trabacchini

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