Scientist Nelly Senff is desperate to escape her life in East Berlin. The father of her two children has supposedly committed suicide, and she wants to leave behind the prying eyes of the Stasi.
But the West is not all she hoped for. Nelly and her children are held in Marienfelde, a processing centre and no-man’s-land between East and West. There she meets Krystyna, a Polish woman who hopes that medical treatment in the West will save her dying brother; Hans, a troubled actor released from prison in the East; and John, a CIA man monitoring the refugees for possible Stasi spies. All lives cross here, and the cramped confines of the camp breed defamation and violence.
West is a devastating portrait of a mother in turmoil, trying to do the best for her children, as she attempts to escape her past and start a new life.
Now an award-winning film
"Franck’s spare prose evokes an atmosphere of claustrophobic menace. Her unflinching gaze at lives in limbo…is a compelling and resonant read" (Independent)
"This is…a powerful novel by an impressive prose stylist and one that throws a spotlight, arrestingly, on a gloomy corner of history" (Stephanie Cross Daily Mail)
"Franck’s bleak novel excels in the portrayal of the camp’s oppressive no-man’s-land atmosphere" (Rebecca K. Morrison The Times Literary Supplement)
Julia Franck was born in Berlin in 1970. Her novel The Blind Side of the Heart won the German Book Prize and sold over a million copies in Germany alone. It was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize, and was named one of the best books of the year by the Guardian and US magazine Kirkus Reviews. West is her third novel to be translated into English.