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In tijden van afnemend licht

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  776 ratings  ·  113 reviews
Op 1 oktober 1989 wordt de Oost-Duitse Wilhelm Powileit negentig jaar. Terwijl buiten de roep om vrijheid en democratie steeds luider klinkt en het niet lang meer duurt voordat de Muur zal vallen, eindigt de dag voor de inmiddels demente Wilhelm in grote chaos, wanneer de tafel voor het buffet met eten en al instort.

Wilhelm was zijn leven lang overtuigd communist, net als...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 2012 by De Geus (first published 2011)
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This is my top ten 2013. Apart from proving that even simple arithmetic is beyond me, it also reveals a certain pattern in my reading pleasure. Of the fourteen - and no, I'm not quite as numerically challenged as all that, The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss was not available for the photo shoot - three were read in January, six in August/beginning of September, and four at the end of October/beginning of November. What do those months have in common? Off work. Holiday....more
Friederike Knabe
Eugen Ruge's IN ZEITEN DES ABNEHMENDEN LICHTS created a bit of a literary sensation in Germany when this debut novel won the prominent German Book Prize 2010 as, what some German critics have called, the "Great DDR Buddenbrooks novel", a multi-generational family tale, set primarily in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Now translated into English as IN TIMES OF FADING LIGHT by the highly esteemed Anthea Bell, it will likely establish itself as an important fictional account of persona...more
Über drei Generationen hinweg wird durch die Mitglieder einer Familie die Geschichte vom Anfang bis Ende der DDR aufgerollt. Der Leser findet sich an verschiedenen, historisch oder familienbezogenen wichtigen Jahresstationen wieder, von den 50-ger Jahren über die 60-ger und 70-ger bis hin zum Jahr des Mauerfalls und weiterführend bis 2001.
Sehr interessante Charaktere, die sehr einfühlsam dargestellt sind, beginnend mit der vom Kommunismus überzeugten Generation der Vorkriegsjahre bis hin zu der...more
Waar ze in de VS de eeuwige discussie hebben over de ‘Great American novel’, zijn ze in Duitsland altijd op zoek naar het ultieme boek over de Wende. Die discussies blijven boeiend, omdat er nooit een eenduidig antwoord op is. Enkele jaren geleden werd De toren van Uwe Tellkamp opeens onthaald als de definitieve Wende-roman. Onlangs woei de nieuwste literaire sensatie vanuit Duitsland over naar Nederland, In tijden van afnemend licht van Eugen Ruge. Waarom lees je het ene boek niet en het andere...more
'En tiempos de luz menguante' de Eugen Ruge es una novela que abarca 50 años de la historia de la Alemania del Este pero también 50 años de la historia de una familia, prácticamente cuatro generaciones. Hay múltiples puntos de vista, cada personaje tiene su voz (y estilo) particular, y la narración no es lineal sino que salta continuamente adelante y atrás en el tiempo. Es, por tanto, una obra ambiciosa, la primera novela de un escritor debutante, que sale airoso de los retos estilísticos y narr...more
Een mooie Duitslandroman over de familie Umnitzer in de periode van 1952 to na de wende van 1989 tot in 2001. De pater familieas Wilhelm en zijn vrouw Charlotte die als overtuigde communisten terug keren uit ballingschap in Mexico en als pioniers terugkeren in de jonge DDR. Hun zoon Kurt die als professor uitwijkt naar Moskou en ongelukkiger wijze in een Russische goelag terecht komt en na zijn rehabilitatie terug naar de DDR komt met zij Russische vrouw Irina Petrowna. De totaal gedesoriënteerd...more
MAGNIFICENT. On one level, this is just a lot of unhappy people living in physically and/or psychologically dreary circumstances, ordinarily a book I wouldn’t want to keep going with. On another, this is a fascinating kaleidoscope where some of the same places – Berlin, Moscow, Mexico City – shift in and out of decades (1952, 1989, 2001). More centrally, the same set of people shift in and out of foreground/background: Kurt is the son who seems too dutiful to Mutti if you’re his wife, too subjec...more
Dass ich in unserer kleinen, aber feinen Germanistik-Abteilung der Sprachwissenschaftler bin, und nicht etwa ein Literaturwissenschaftler, hat den angenehmen Nebeneffekt, dass ich nicht alle „wichtigen“ Bücher immer sofort lesen muss. (Der zweite angenehme Nebeneffekt ist übrigens, dass ich mich mit Sprachwissenschaft beschäftigen darf und nicht mit Literaturwissenschaft.) „In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts“, immerhin schon vor zwei Jahren mit dem Deutschen Buchpreis ausgezeichnet, stand schon ei...more
Jakey Gee
Disappointing - and one pretty sloppy translation job.

Oddly enough I actually came to it after reading a piece on Anthea Bell (the book's translator) around the time of the latest Asterix launch (she did the Asterix books and has a glittering reputation for, well, getting it). She mentioned this novel as something else she'd translated recently and I read that it had done extremely well in Germany. So far so promising.

Sadly, it's a bit brown coal. Two things are especially frustrating about it....more
Læser den altså på dansk... hvor den hedder I tider med aftagende lys. Den tegner virkelig godt. Og det holdt hele vejen. Uomgængelig roman om DDR-tiden set gennem et kalejdoskopisk blik af fire generationer, der ganske vist lever i tider med aftagende lys, men også med glimt af skønhed, varme og humor.
When I saw that Fading Light was compared to Buddenbrooks, and that the author indicated that it was "The Story of a Family" (as Buddenbrooks is prefaced) I snatched it up. Many reviewers here caution that the reader must know something about East Germany or socialism or the Fall of the Wall to enjoy this book. I don't see that as the essential problem here. I knew essentially nothing about 19th century Germany, Lubeck, Protestantism, etc, and yet I fully loved and grasped Buddenbrooks. To me, t...more
Thore Husfeldt
Großartig, präzise, atmosphärisch, – mein seit Langem bestes Leseerlebnis.

Die Parallelen zu Mann’s Buddenbrooks, auf die in einer auf dem Klappentext zitierten Zeit-Rezension hingewiesen wird, sind offensichtlich; Ruges Roman könnte mit “Verfall eine Familie” ebenso korrekt untertitelt worden sein. (Sogar gründliche Schilderungen guter Mittagessen gibt’s.) Vier Generationen, gut ein halbes Dutzend Erzählerperspektiven: ein alternder, in in jeder Hinsicht völlig wertloser Vorkriegs-Kommunist, ein...more
I chose to read this book because I love historical fiction embedded in family drama. I wanted to read this particular book because I have little knowledge of East Germany, Communism, and the effects of the fall of communism on East Germans. Also, the book received 3 German literature prizes. It’s not an easy book to get through, as Ruge chose the format of telling the story of 4 generations of an East German family in different time dates, through different character’s perspective, and in refle...more
Mark white
For some reason this novel of the gray and deeply unsatisfying lives of three generations of an East German family was engaging and kept me reading. That says something, because the lives of these mostly old and unmoored communists are sad and often grim. Several of the main characters are demented — senile.

The good things, and there are many, were the graphic and beautiful descriptions. They were really necessary in the case of the Russian who spoke little German. Though the family lives throug...more
Full Stop

Review by Elias Tezapsidis

Eugen Ruge’s debut novel In Times of Fading Light has generated an enthusiastic response for what many critics perceive as the author’s admirable skill in building a historically fascinating puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle, a series of vignettes chronicling three generations of the Umitzer family over more than fifty years of modern history, document the way the Umitzers’ geopolitical circumstances shape their personal experience...more
Glassworks Magazine
Humanity Behind the Wall
Review: In Times of Fading Light

Review by Joseph F. Berenato published on

My generation comprised the last of the Cold War Kids, and the Communist Bloc was still a very real thing during my childhood. It didn’t matter if we were talking about soldiers or scholars, presidents or peasants; any person beyond the Berlin Wall was the enemy. It was inconceivable to us that anyone who lived on the other side of the Iron Curtain could be painted as anything...more
Steve Petherbridge
Eugen Ruge's novel is set in East Berlin and paints a view of the GDR, approaching the end of the Cold War and the re-unification of Germany, from the inside, behind Churchill's Iron Curtain. Ruge, born in the Urals, graduated in Mathematics in Berlin and left for the West in 1988, before then collaborating with the state-owned DEFA TV. This, his first novel was a prizewinner and bestseller in Germany.

Ruge tells the story of a Russian-German family offering a view of life on the wrong side of th...more
Tilen Tomše
A brilliant book about the DDR. The author takes the reader on a wonderful journey through different periodes of time of East-Germany with the help of various family Umnitzer family members. Each character plays a different role in this post-war and pre-united Germany family biography. The setting varies from Mexico to East Germany and even Russia. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's even slightly interested in such a topic.
Wow. Historical fiction at its best, but it is not to be taken lightly. I had to invest some serious time into this book - looking up dates and timelines, researching place names and political figures. I discovered that I know embarrassingly little about East Germany and its history. A lot of it is pretty darn depressing, too, so don't pick up this book expecting a feel-good story about plucky heroes and heroines. Tragedy abounds.
Vier generaties Umnitzers en hun aangetrouwde familie proberen te overleven in de DDr. Via hun verhalen volgen we de geschiedenis van de DDR. Grootmoeder Charlotte is getrouwd met Wilhelm (de kinderen zijn uit een eerdere relatie) en na hun verblijf in Mexico worden ze tot directeuren benoemd van een onzinnig instituut. Wilhelm stort zich daarnaast op het lidmaatschap van de partij en tot vlak voor de val van de muur zal hij daarvoor ieder jaar even onzinnige onderscheidingen ontvangen. Zoon Kur...more
Paul Fulcher
The book contains three strands, in alternating chapters each of around 15 pages, telling the story of four generations of an East German family, and indirectly the history of the German Democratic Republic.

The most successful strand tells the story of one day, in October 1989, as the family celebrate the 90th birthday of the head of the family, a much decorated Communist functionary. We see the events from the perspective of different family members ranging from the grandfather himself to his 1...more
Interessant, dass der anfänglich durchaus sympathische Enkel Alexander sich nach diversen Perspektiven als degeneriertes Arschloch erweist, jegliche Verantwortung ablehnend, vor seinem eigenen Sohn flieht und mit der Kasse seines dementen Vaters dem eigenen, medizinisch prognostizierten Tod entgegenrennt. Die Erzähler rund um den 90. Geburtstag sind klasse und der Gegensatz von der ersten Generation, die aus einem sorgenfreien Leben in Mexiko nach Berlin zurückkehrt um voller Begeisterung, jedoc...more
The novel itself focuses on three generations.

The grandparents, still convinced Communists, return to the fledging East Germany at the beginning of the 1950s to do their part in establishing the new state. Their son returns from the other direction, having emigrated to Moscow and found himself banished to Siberia. He returns with his Russian wife to a country mired in petit bourgeois values, yet also brings with him an unwavering belief that they can be changed. The grandson, meanwhile, feels i...more
Roula Yasin
L'histoire du déclin d'une famille entre 1952 et 2001. La 1ère génération retourne d'un exil au Mexique et retrouve la 2 eme génération (leur fils allemand exile en Russie et sa femme de Sibérie) et se retrouvent en RDA pour construire le pays. Et à travers des anecdotes du quotidien, on ressent le conflit de génération avec la 3ème génération de Sacha qui suffoque à l'Est qui est paumé, passe de pays en pays, de femme en femme, abandonnant son fils Marcus (4ème génération) qui a basculé ds le c...more
Nice read, sufficiently entertaining - but miles away from Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks" (which Ruge's book as been compared to as playing in the same league). Am not even sure why it received the Deutsche Buchpreis award in 2011.

The wall came down too many years prior to 2011 for this award being a socio-political statement still.
The book does not give sufficient (and sufficiently complex) insight into the pre- and post-GDR structures of interwoven social life and political life to make strong h...more
Erzählt wird die Geschichte einer deutschen Familie: Die Urgroßeltern, Charlotte und Wilhelm, gingen während der Nazizeit ins mexikanische Exil: Als überzeugte Kommunisten sahen sie keinen anderen Weg. Nach dem Krieg kehrten sie nach Ostdeutschland zurück, um die DDR mit aufzubauen, und bekamen zwei Söhne: Werner und Kurt. Während Werner, wie man eher andeutungsweise erfährt, irgendwann im sowjetischen Gulag ums Leben kam, hat Kurt das Lager überlebt, später die Russin Irina geheiratet und ist m...more
Eines der wenigen deutschen Bücher, die ich in letzter Zeit gelesen habe, und ich fand es sehr gut ... vielleicht, weil es von Stil und Aufbau her ein bisschen der neueren englischsprachigen Literatur ähnelt!
Es ist eine Familiengeschichte, die eng mit der Geschichte der DDR verknüpft ist. So weit, so gut. Aber das Besondere sind wirklich Aufbau und Stil: Die einzelnen Kapitel springen vor und zurück durch die Zeit (von den 50er Jahren bis 2001) und werden von den verschiedenen Familienmitgliede...more
Ubik 2.0
DDR Dreaming

Mi pare riduttivo incasellare “In tempi di luce declinante” come un episodio fra tanti nella folta categoria narrativa saga familiare, perché il romanzo presenta importanti qualità che lo distinguono.

La peculiarità immediatamente evidente è il fatto stesso di essere ambientato in un contesto inedito (almeno per quanto a mia conoscenza) com’è quello dell’ormai defunta Repubblica Democratica Tedesca.

Questo ci permette di osservare oltre mezzo secolo di storia europea da una prospetti...more
Dit is een heel mooi boek, het beste boek van 2011 in Duitsland. Het boek is opgebouwd rond 1 oktober 1989, een verjaardagfeest voor de 90ste verjaardag van Wilhelm, getrouwd met Charlotte, moeder van 2 zonen. Wilhelm is zijn hele leven een overtuigd communist geweest. Na een lange ballingschap in Mexico keert hij in 1952 met zijn vrouw terug naar de DDR. Vier jaar later voegt hun zoon Kurt zich bij hen. Kurt probeert de verschrikkingen van de goelag achter zich te laten en samen met zijn Russis...more
a fairly fascinating novel over a period of time (not chronological) and places. The people have mostly lived disappointing lives. What immediately got me involved was the first chapter, describing what it's like to be around an increasingly demented parent. It would probably help to know more of the history of eastern germany. One extra comment: I read this on my kindle and this is just the sort of book that one shouldn't read this way. The chronology and characters bounced back and forth and I...more
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