by Anke Stelling
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Pub Date 08 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 31 Mar 2021
Scribe UK, Scribe
A prize-winning novel about class, money, creativity, and motherhood, that ultimately reveals what happens when the hypocrisies we live by are exposed ...
Resi is a writer in her mid-forties, married to Sven, a painter. They live, with their four children, in an apartment building in Berlin, where their lease is controlled by some of their closest friends. Those same friends live communally nearby, in a house they co-own and have built together. Only Resi and Sven, the token artists of their social circle, are renting. As the years have passed, Resi has watched her once-dear friends become more and more ensconced in the comforts and compromises of money, success, and the nuclear family.
After Resi’s latest book openly criticises stereotypical family life and values, she receives a letter of eviction. Incensed by the true natures and hard realities she now sees so clearly, Resi sets out to describe the world as it really is for her fourteen-year-old daughter, Bea. As Berlin, that creative mecca, crumbles under the inexorable march of privatisation and commodification, taking relationships with it, Resi is determined to warn Bea about the lures, traps, and ugly truths that await her.
Written with dark humour and clarifying rage, Anke Stelling’s novel is a ferocious and funny account of motherhood, parenthood, family, and friendship thrust into battle. Lively, rude, and wise, it throws down the gauntlet to those who fail to interrogate who they have become.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
I loved loved loved this. Resi, the narrator, is an absolute mess, very difficult to like or sympathise with, despite how extremely reasonable her fear, anger and despair are. She is wildly dramatic in the most enjoyably infuriating way - if only to read about. If she was your friend you'd tear your hair out. If you lived with her you might lose your mind.
Higher Ground is about gentrification, class, friendship, family and art. Resi is a writer, an occupation which she both reveres and scorns, and if I tell you that she likens it to pissing on the pavement, well, you should get an idea of the tone of the novel. I found this a blackly funny read, beautifully written (and/or fantastically translated by Lucy Jones).
Fascinating look at the West German psyche, or pathology, with glimpses of the 1930s and pre-fall of the Wall, to modern day. Resi is just about the Berlinest Berliner I've ever read about, she and Sven are über liberal, low-earning artsy parents; and were up until recently included in a cooperative nucleus of longterm friends. Resi was always the poor one in the group, which carried through to adulthood as all the rest are now coincidentally professionals. Resi is a writer, a rebel, and a survivor. She likes to think the chip on her shoulder isn't what drove her to out her friends' bougie travails in an article followed by a novel, that it isn't what got her and her family kicked out of their comfy subsidized housing. I like the way she narrates this story about imminent homelessness to her 14-yr old daughter Bea, while her other kids 11-yo Jack, 8-yo Kieran who likes killing things, and 5-yo Lynn run amok in the background.
From the opening to the very last line, author Anke Stelling kills it. Resi reminisces and ruminates entertainingly about everything from the slings and arrows her mother suffered, cigarette addiction, gentrification, Nazi Gauleiter Franz, to the poison of maternal love.