“I’ve known Death a long time, but now Death knows me.”
So begins the story of the three Moreau siblings who unexpectedly lost their parents in a car crash when they were teenagers, and sent to a Barbavian state boarding school. Each of them dealt with loss, grief, and love in their own ways, be it destructive or reclusive, and gradually grew apart from each other. Not until years later did they again find themselves together via their well rooted sibling love, and accept their identities and their lives.
Benedict Wells is a German-Swiss novelist. He writes with deep emotions and his characters felt real, he having been to boarding school himself. The End of Loneliness is a captivating and heartbreaking novel about memory, identity, love, and the life you did not get to live. You wouldn’t be able to hold back your tears.
At some points the novel reads like a popular fiction, which is what I usually dread from best selling novels (this was on the German best seller list for 80 weeks), but then the writing was elevated and delved into abstract ideas, philosophical discussions, and a surprising LSD-induced dream for a plot twist.
“… Kierkegaard says the self must be broken in order to become itself.”
“Well, we come into the world and we’re influenced by our environment, our parents, strokes of fates, education and random experiences. Then at some point we say, ‘I am such-and-such, ‘ as if it’s something that can be taken for granted, but we just mean the surface, the primary self. To find your true self you need to question everything you encountered at birth. And lose some of it, too, because often it’s only in pain that we discover what really belongs to us…. It’s in the breaches that we recognize ourselves.”
The End of Loneliness won the European Union prize for literature in 2016.
Translated by Charlotte Collins
Published in German in 2016, in English in 2019 by Penguinbooks
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