Brigitte Reimann: Siblings 16.04.23 in Berlin, Lettrétage in der Veteranenstr.
Tickets – Brigitte Reimann: Siblings Berlin
Brigitte Reimann was one of the most important female voices in the GDR. A prolific writer, she wrote a clutch of novels before dying fifty years ago of cancer, aged 39. The English version of her novel Die Geschwister, has been published by Penguin Classics and Transit Books as Siblings, translated by Lucy Jones.
Siblings is about how the division of Germany affected Reimann’s family personally. An early writer of autofiction because of her commitment to the causes she believed in, when her first brother defected to the West, she felt that her family had been torn apart. Siblings explores one day at Easter in 1963 when the narrator Elisabeth tries to persuade her second brother not to leave for the West too. She is a painter in the GDR who is trying to follow the call of the Bitterfeld Conference and bring art to the workers – but without toeing the socialist line. This storyline too is closely based on Reimann’s fight to write literature in the 1960s that was more than just ideological fodder. In real life she stood up to those in power, expressing herself in ‘dense, jagged prose (…) convey(ing) a hunger for a life that encompasses idealism with desire’ (Alexander Wells, The Guardian, Sat 11 February 2023). Like a kind of ‘flickering street photography’ (Kevin Brazil, TLS) the novel evokes what it was like to live in the GDR of the 1960s, with so much at stake in personal and political terms.