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Paperback review: Roads to Berlin, By Cees Nooteboom (Translation by Laura Watkinson)


Cees Nooteboom, a Dutchman, was living in Berlin when the Wall came down, and this is an acute, searching meditation on that time as well as on the way Germany has adapted since.

Nooteboom is alert to every detail: former East Germans wearing new Italian jackets with their old green army trousers; the museum commemorating the German surrender to the Soviets that contains no mention of the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact. He is sensitive to paradox – for example the continuing visibility of the invisible Wall – and to history, noting Germany’s youth as a nation, compared to the “adults” England and France. It’s written with the accuracy of a historian and the imagination of a poet. Beautifully translated, too.