The Dark Room: A Novel Hardcover – 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
The book contains three stories or novellas that are not dependent upon one another, and while not all carried the same impact, the three are consistently well written. The Author writes in an understated manner, this is not a series of stories that shock by atrocity alone. The book is replete with human suffering both inflicted and endured, but it is delivered with a subtle pen. Ms. Seiffert also has taken a less familiar perspective in this book. The book does have a camp survivor as a pivotal player in the final story, however generally we see the other victims of the crimes of this war. The events that forever damage these people are explored both as they happened and as they are uncovered generations later.
The final story is, "Micha", and I found it to be the strongest. Those who were affected by being present during the war and its aftermath generally struggle with grief or rage that is more familiar; they are the immediate victims of the conflict. The final story painfully demonstrates that certain conduct has ramifications that never subside, as they literally inhabit the generations that follow. Time does not in fact heal many things.
I look forward to more of what this woman will offer as she has a manner of writing that that slowly invades the mind's eye, and in this case encompasses it with its horror and crimes. It is a powerful method of delivering themes that are all fundamentally appalling, without any added emphasis. She presents her stories without flourish and without preaching. A very talented young Author.
Yet, this novel isn't a meditation only for Germans to deal with their own history. (After all, who doesn't belong to a nation that has committed governmentally enforced crimes against a group of people?) It makes an important statement about World War II but also one about the human condition and our relation to the past. The human relationships are tenderly drawn. All the characters are intensely selfish in their own way, but have encountered numerous difficulties in their lives which have moderated the way they relate to people. The book moves much more slowly at the end and becomes very meditative. At times this becomes more tedious than insightful. However, the final picture is a complicated portrait of national guilt wrapped with small examples of human kindness and forgiveness.
Although the protagonists (there are three) in Seiffert's book aren't actually murderers per se, they have become murderers by association; their implicit acceptance of Nazi Germany's crimes against the Jews has condemned them. There is Helmut, who is a Berlin teenager at the start of the war; Lore, a young girl who becomes yet another displaced person at the war's end; and Micha, perhaps the most interesting character, who is actually a member of the next generation. Micha is only thirty years old in 1997 when he begins to question his own ancestry and the history of his family.
I like the way Seiffert tells the stories of her three protagonists. Her prose is terse, quite muted and written entirely in the present tense. We are given only information the protagonists themselves know and understand and they come to know and understand themselves and their situations very slowly and very deliberately.
It is fitting that none of the characters in the three stories that make up "The Dark Room" fully understands the situation that surrounds him or her. Helmut, the protagonist of the first story, becomes a photographer's assistant when a birth defect keeps him out of the army. In his photographs of Berlin he notices that people keep disappearing, but it is quite some time before he understands why.
The book's second protagonist, Lore, may be the character least likely to comprehend the horrific events going on around her.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Inspired to read the novel having seen the movie based on the second story, "Lore". The writing is superb and the three narratives are utterly engaging. First Rate.Published on July 28 2013 by David Schurmann
Rachel Seiffert's debut novel entitled "The Dark Room (DR)" is named after the first of its three novellas. Read morePublished on June 9 2002
...The Dark Room concerns itself with events in Germany before, during and after the Second World War. Read morePublished on May 23 2002 by peter wild
When a friend recommended this book to me she said it was a page-turner but not enjoyable. I must say I found this to be an accurate assessment of a beautifully written but... Read morePublished on May 7 2002
These three novellas take a different approach from the usual in WW2 literature: they present the difficulties for the German people. Read morePublished on April 21 2002 by Excession
The books describes the struggle of 3 generations of Germans to cope with the war.
Helmut is 18 when the war starts. Read more
'The Dark Room' is a beautiful debut. It is captivating, lucid and thought-provoking, without being remotely pretentious. Read morePublished on March 18 2002 by A. Peel
There are two sides to every story. the vast majority of Holocaust literature has dealt with the victim's story. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2002 by Your librarian
I enjoyed this book but it failed to move me greatly. Three stories of individuals in Germany before, during and after the war. Read morePublished on Oct. 5 2001 by I Read Therefore I Am