Tag Archives: Ingrid Noll

My Book Year 2019

The year 2019 is almost over and it is time to look back at my reading and blogging experiences.

After a hiatus, I started again to blog more or less regularly and I hope this will be also the case for 2020.

As for my reading, I didn’t keep a diary to track down the books I read this year, but the number is approximately 130, so roughly two and a half books per week, of which around 60% were fiction, 40% non-fiction. Almost all books I read were “real” printed books, only one book was read electronically. I read books in four languages (German, English, French, Bulgarian).

Every book year brings interesting discoveries, pleasant surprises, some re-reads of books I enjoyed in the past, and a few disappointments. Here are my highlights of the last year:

The most beautiful book I read in 2019: Arnulf Conradi, Zen und die Kunst der Vogelbeobachtung (Zen and the Art of Birdwatching)

Best re-reads in 2019: Michel de Montaigne, Essais; Karl Philipp Moritz, Anton Reiser; Salomon Maimon, Lebensgeschichte (Autobiography)

Best novels I read in 2019: Marlen Haushofer, Die Wand (The Wall); Uwe Johnson, Jahrestage (Anniversaries); Jean Rhys, Sargasso Sea

Best poetry books I read in 2019: Thomas Brasch: Die nennen das Schrei (Collected Poems); Johannes Bobrowski, Gesammelte Gedichte (Collected Poems), Franz Hodjak, Siebenbürgische Sprechübung (Transylvanian Speaking Exercise); Yehuda Amichai, The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai; Anise Koltz, Sich der Stille hingeben (Surrender to the Silence); Mahmoud Darwish, Unfortunately It Was Paradise; Vladimir Sabourin, Останките на Троцки (Trotzky’s Remains); Rainer René Mueller, geschriebes, selbst mit stein

Best Graphic Novel I read in 2019: Art Spiegelman, Maus

Best SF novel I read in 2019: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, The Doomed City

Best crime novel I read in 2019: Ingrid Noll, Halali

Best philosophy book I read in 2019: Ibn Tufail, The Improvement of Human Reason

Best non-fiction books I read in 2019: Charles King, The Moldovans; Charles King, Midnight at the Pera Palace; Timothy Snyder, The Road to Unfreedom; Adriano Sofri, Kafkas elektrische Straßenbahn (Kafkas Electric Streetcar); Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Lucy Inglis, Milk of Paradise; Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, Sacred Trash; Sasha Abramsky, The House of Twenty Thousand Books

Best art book I read in 2019: Hans Belting, Der Blick hinter Duchamps Tür (The View behind Duchamp’s Door)

Best travel book I read in 2019: Johann Gottfried Seume, Spaziergang nach Syrakus (Walk to Syracuse)

Biggest book disappointment in 2019: Elena Ferrante, Neapolitan Novels

Favourite book cover in 2019: Ivo Rafailov’s cover for the Bulgarian edition of Marjana Gaponenko’s Who Is Martha? (this edition is upcoming in January 2020)

Most impressive translator’s work: Jennifer Croft’s translation of Flights by Olga Tokarczuk; Vladimir Sabourin’s translations in his Bulgarian poetry anthology Радост на Началото (The Joy of the Beginning)

Most embarrassing authors in 2019: Peter Handke; Christoph Hein; Zachary Karabashliev

Good as always: Vladimir Sorokin, The Blizzard; Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart; Ismail Kadare, The Traitor’s Niche; Jabbour Douaihy, Printed in Beirut; Georg Klein, Die Zukunft des Mars (The Future of the Mars); Phillipe Claudel, Le rapport de Brodeck (Brodeck), Kapka Kassabova, Border; Naguib Mahfouz, The Midaq Alley

Interesting Authors I discovered in 2019: Samanta Schweblin, Mouthful of Birds; Olga Tokarczuk, Flights; Isabel Fargo Cole, Die Grüne Grenze (The Green Border); Hartmut Lange, Das Haus in der Dorotheenstraße (The House in the Dorotheenstraße); Erich Hackl, Abschied von Sidonie (Farewell to Sidonia)

And which were your most remarkable books in 2019?

© Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki, 2014-9. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hell Hath No Fury

When old barns burn…

Rosemarie Hirte is an average woman with an average life – so it seems. She never married, lives alone, is working in an insurance company. She is diligent but not openly ambitious, a very respected colleague. Her social contacts outside work are very few: Beate, an old friend (but not particularly close) and Frau Römer, an elderly colleague whose dog she is walking from time to time.

There is no man in Rosemarie’s life, and the very few occasions when a man had shown a serious interest in her during her younger years ended with deep disappointments for her: either she was deserted for a more attractive (or more interesting) woman, or the married man returned finally to his wife. Also the fact that she couldn’t finish her studies has had an impact on her. Rosemarie Hirte, who is also the narrator of the story, is an embittered spinster in her early fifties who has the feeling that her life was one of missed opportunities, there can be no doubt about it.

But then everything seems to change. Against her usual habit, she is giving in to Beate to visit a reading evening together. The author Rainer Witold Engstern is talking about German romanticism and its poets. Rosemarie is not a particular poetic person, but Witold, as she calls him soon secretly, is a handsome man, some years younger than Rosemarie and he has a voice for which she falls immediately. Unfortunately, he is married, but the good news (good for Rosemarie) is that something is wrong with the marriage and Witold’s wife left him some time ago.

Although it seems most unlikely – men in Witold’s age are rarely attracted to women like Rosemarie – Rosemarie is determined to use this last chance and all obstacles need to be set aside to be cleared, at no matter what costs. Witold will not escape her, that’s a promise she makes to herself. He is the man of her dreams, the man who has to make up for all the disappointments in her previous life.

I don’t want to give the story away, but we see a total transformation going on with Rosemarie. She develops an enormous and ruthless energy that is really remarkable. People that are in her way – well, they are just obstacles which need to get out of her way. If not…

One remark about the names of some of the protagonists. Engstern, the name of Rosemarie’s love interest means literally “narrow star”, but it is just one letter away from Engstirn (=narrow mind). I think this is called an aptronym (Thomas Mann was master in this art). As it turns out later, Witold is not exactly the bright star that Rosemarie saw in him first.

The name Rosemarie is a bit old-fashioned and the reader might think of a woman doing crocheted blankets in her free time. A Hirte is a shepherd in German, but Rosemarie is quite the opposite of the good shepherd – so in this case the author is intentionally misleading the reader. The contrast between the name and the real character adds to the black humor that is present in many situations. The peaceful and almost Mediterranean Bergstrasse region where most of the story takes place (and where Noll is living), is another stark contrast that is remarkable. (Since I also lived for a long time in this region, this added even a bit more to my pleasure reading this book.)

Rosemarie’s crude energy and industriousness made me laugh on many occasions when I read the book. But sometimes I also shivered. The book gives us an opportunity to have a look into a truly dark soul. In my opinion an excellent crime novel – with an unexpected end.

This is a novel in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith and it was the first book of Ingrid Noll, now considered Germany’s leading female crime author. Noll, born in Shanghai in 1935, is the wife of a pharmacist. She started to write after her children had grown up and had left the house. Hell Hath No Fury was published in 1991 in Germany. Until today she has published twelve crime novels, several books with stories and a children’s book. The original title Der Hahn ist tot refers to the old French kanon Le coq est mort (The rooster is dead).

Noll Hell

Noll Hahn

Ingrid Noll: Hell Hath No Fury, HarperCollins 1997; Der Hahn ist tot, Diogenes 1991

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.