Academic journal article German Quarterly

Esther Dischereit

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Esther Dischereit

Article excerpt

Hall, Katharina, ed. Esther Dischereit. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2007. 181 pp. $55.00 hardcover.

Esther Dischereit's poetry captures the poignant rhythms of the everyday, and questions how genocide became part of Germany's daily experience. Her post-modernist prose continuously pokes at the still unexamined leftovers of a past that Germany had thought to have overcome and thrown out in the humdrum of a new generation. Belonging to the Second Generation of German- Jewish writers, Dischereit is often associated with Katja Behrens and Barbara Honigmann. She represents a contemporary German-Jewish female voice that combines the personal and the fracturing of gendered identities together with ironic, biting, and witty socio-historical and political critique. She has published three poetry collections and five books along with a film, radio plays, essays, and commentaries. She collaborates often with musician Ray Kaczynski.

The anthology Esther Dischereit is the first anywhere devoted solely to the author's writing. Its appearance is a direct result of Dischereit's 2003 stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Contemporary German Literature at the University of Wales Swansea. The book contains a useful biographical outline and bibliography. It also includes an interview in German with the author as well as two chapters in German and four in English on Dischereit's work.

The volume begins with the reprint of a previously published essay entitled "Mama, darf ich das Deutschlandlied singen" (2002). In it, Dischereit explains why she continues to return to "the Jewish topic" and what it means to "write Jewish." She emphasizes that she does not seek out this topic, and has even tried to leave it behind, but it is simply still there with her (1). The essay draws upon canonical German-Jewish sources, the history of German-Jewish identity politics, and personal anecdote.

Katharina Hall's interview with Dischereit focuses on the writer's belief that German literature fails to include an extended examination of personal guilt within German families. Dischereit calls for a focus on the individual and their own personal involvement in history, rather than on characters that represent clichéd notions of the "Jew" or the "German."

The essay by Karen Remmler, "The Sounds and Spaces of Memory in Esther Dischereit's Joé'mis Tisch and Mellie" explores the ethics of Dischereit's prose. In her analysis of the two pieces, Remmler demonstrates how she believes Dischereit disrupts entrenched Holocaust and human rights discourses with fragmentary and otherwise unheard voices that are found at the intersection of narrative and music. …

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