Book summary: The End of Days

2012 BY JENNY ERPENBECK

The End of Days, a brilliant novel of contingency and fate, by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, consists essentially of five “books,” each leading to a different death of the same unnamed woman protagonist. How could it all have gone differently? the narrator asks in the intermezzos. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next chapter, the same girl grows up in Vienna, but her strange relationship with a boy leads to death. In the next scenario, she survives adolescence and moves to Russia with her husband. Both are dedicated Communists, yet our heroine ends up in a labor camp. But her fate does not end there...
A novel of incredible breadth yet amazing concision, The End of Days offers a unique overview of twentieth-century German and German-Jewish history by “one of the finest, most exciting authors alive” (Michael Faber).

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