Englischsprachige Literatur

Shakespeare Nicholas


Vintage, Random House, London 2005


 A name like this is a heavy burden for an author, and, as far as style goes, this Shakespeare here does quite well. His problem is how to organise a convincing plot, and, sad to say, this is where he fails, at least in the long run.

At the beginning his story is really thrilling and quite unusual for a British author. On his 16th birthday young hero Peter Hithersay finds out, that his beloved father is not his biological one, as his mother had a one-night-stand with a German prisoner on the run in Leipzig in the GDR. From that moment Peter feels German, takes German language courses at his rather posh school and endures being mobbed by his fellow students.

He then studies medicine in Hamburg and gets the chance to go to Leipzig with a student drama group. Here he hopes to find out more about his father. Instead he falls in love with a girl called Snjolaug, a name that sounds to him like Snowleg. She takes him to her brother´s farewell party. He has been allowed to leave the GDR. Snowleg finds out, that this also means her personal future is in shambles. So after they spend the night together in a Schrebergarten datscha, she asks Peter to smuggle her out of the country. Although he first is glad about that, he then has second thoughts and in the end denies knowing her when confronted with her at an official reception.

And now his and the reader´s torment begins. Shakespeare is neither really interested in his hero´s quest to find Snowleg again, nor in the dire situation he has left her in. What we hear about the infamous methods of the Stasi is just cheap sensationalism, nothing new or convincing.  Like Housseini´s hero in “The Kiterunner” Peter keeps moaning on and on about his fatal mistake. And, there are just one too many coincidences in the plot.