Ein fauler Gott Stephan Lohse - Suhrkamp Verlag

Genre: Literary Fiction, Novel

Number of pages: 336

Publication date: Mar 06 2017

Autumn, 1972. 8-year-old Jonas dies. His mother Ruth and his brother Benjamin try to carry on, each in their own way. Ruth decides to investigate Jonas’s death. She questions the lifeguard and his apprentice in the swimming pool where he died; in the hospital, she has them explain his death to her. She reads books, searching for a hidden meaning in all of this, and feeds an abandoned chiffchaff. At night, she sits on an electric blanket and falls into despair over the loss of her child. Ben comes home especially punctual these days, he helps Ruth in the kitchen, plays something for her on his recorder and talks to her about earthworms, beavers and the archaeopteryx. He adjusts. While Ben finds back to life in the following months, Ruth loses herself in the void of her grief. »Once it grows colder, we’ll leave,« she says. In the autumn of 1973, they set out.

In his debut novel, Stephan Lohse writes about the worst that could happen to a family, the death of a child, full of empathy. But first and foremost, he writes about life and what it demands of those who remain: of pain and forlornness, but also of the unquenchable yearning for overcoming the grief, for the joy of ordinariness.

Hubert Spiegel, German Literature-critic over Ein fauler Gott (F.A.Z. 2017-18-03):

“Stephan Lohse tells a peculiar hovering story about grief and loss, about the wondrous adventures of childhood and how a son and a mother in times of pain and helplessness  slowly find each other. His novel is empathic, but never kitschy, moving and humorous which shows his sense of details. A beautiful, an impressive debut.”

Stephan Lohse, born in Hamburg in 1964, studied Acting at the famous Max-Reinhardt-Seminar in Vienna. He played amongst other at the Hamburg Thalia Theater, at Schaubühne Berlin and the Wiener Schauspielhaus. His debut novel is the result of something completely different than he started off with in the first place:

“In 2011, I learned in an impressive TV documentary that Pierre Brice had already had a career as an actor in French photonovels before becoming Winnetou. These photos were black and white and had been produced under the most luxurious circumstances. I liked this idea so much that I started planning an evening of theatre that was to devote a grotesquely long stretch of time to the presentation of elaborately designed black-and-white photographs until, at last, one photo was to come to wild, colourful life. For this, I needed a story and after a few weeks I realised that I was, in fact, writing a book. So the theatre project didn’t happen. Neither did the book. But I stuck with it. And the result is the book that is now called A Lazy God.”