In her new novel, Antje Rávic Strubel gives us a highjacked plane and a difficult, if not impossible, quest for the truth. She has taken a real story as her inspiration: in 1978 a Tupolew 134 was hijacked by two citizens from East Germany who were on a flight from Gdansk to West Berlin. The hijacking hadn’t been planned; it was a rash spur of the moment decision made by two people who had been betrayed whilst trying to cross the border illegally.
Antje Rávic Strubel recounts a unique and absorbing story of escape, betrayal and illegal activity, the political consequences of this act, the desire to leave a past life behind, the impossibility of escaping the conditioning of a previous way of life, and the longing and futility of unconventional love.
Unfolding in three different periods of time – before and leading up to the escape, the ensuing court case at Tempelhof airport, and the reconstruction from memory 25 years on –, the novel uses a well shaft as its central image. The text follows this descent, as the narrator darts from one level to another, and the reader plunges down into ever more vertiginous depths of uncertainty. In attempting to uncover the betrayal of her past, she is driven to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a definite answer and it is as impossible to penetrate the depths of one’s being as it is to plumb the darkest depths of a well.
Tupolew 134 is a story about the two Germanys, but also a novel about looking for meaning within a very precisely described human and historical landscape – riveting and brilliantly rendered.
Bremer Literaturpreis 2005 (Most promising young author)
Marburger Literaturpreis 2005