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In Times of Fading Light: A Novel

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  1,078 ratings  ·  147 reviews
Enthrallingly expansive in its geographical and temporal sweep, this story of a German family tells of years spent in exile, of the revolution of 1989 and beyond. The masterful narrative makes halt in Mexico, Siberia and East Berlin, climbing the summits and charting the abysses of the 20th century along the way. The result is both a stunning panorama and a monumental Germ ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Graywolf Press (first published January 1st 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.
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
I gave this book four stars. It moved back and forth in time, and also locations, including East Germany pre and post fall of the Berlin Wall, Russia and Mexico.
This was a device I expected to find irritating, but in fact it worked well to build up the story and develop the characters.

I got a bit confused between the various characters and different generations of the same family. I wished I'd made a family tree as I went along.

There was an unexpected incident near the end of the book that I f
'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
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
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
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
This took me around 100 pages to get into, but when I got used to the names of the various characters and the time shifting between eras, the complex family story became one that I was drawn in by.

The novel, which tells the story of a family from GDR, before and after unification, touches on the politics of the time-patriarch, Wilhelm and his wife Charlotte are initially in exile in Mexico, son Kurt has spent time in a labour camp in Russia, the return to 1st October 1989 throughout the book cha
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
I love the structure of this novel. It's a family story told from the different perspective of its members during different years--out of order. A constant is a certain day in 1989 that keeps getting retold, from varied points of view, and each time it's told, you go a little deeper into the day, you find out a little more. I've never seen exactly that before. Of course I've read stories that are told out of order so you know characters' fates before they do and sometimes you get to go back and ...more
storia di famiglia che va avanti e indietro nel tempo, dalla fine della guerra alla caduta della ddr. il racconto è per frammenti, ognuno con una voce diversa e un punto di vista differente: il patriarca, comunista duro e puro, la scettica verso il regime, il contestatore, il figlio che sceglie di non opporsi. non tutto funziona alla perfezione, alcune parti sono fumose e qualche personaggio meno incisivo degli altri. lodevole l'ambientazione in uno dei paesi più oscuri e soffocanti dell'ex bloc ...more
Петър Панчев
Зад Желязната завеса през погледа на обикновения човек
Цялото ревю тук:

„Във времена на гаснещата светлина“ („Колибри“, 2015) не се оказа лесното четиво, което очаквах. За трудните години на Прехода в България знам доста повече, отколкото за този в останалите бивши социалистически страни и ми беше крайно любопитно да надникна другаде, през очите на човек, запознат с механизмите, движили политическата обстановка в Източна Германия. Аз лично останах изключит
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
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
למרות ההמלצות שקיבלתי נשברתי אחרי 200 עמודים ונטשתי.
ממש לא התחברתי לספר
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Ahmed Farouk
رواية "عند تلاشي الضوء" هي العمل الروائي الأول لأويغن روغه (من مواليد عام 1954) الذي عمل لفترة طويلة مخرجا مسرحيا، وقد صدرت الرواية عام 2011 وحازت علي جائزة الكتاب الألماني، ووصفها بعض النقاد بأنها "آل بودنبروك" ألمانيا الشرقية. تعرض الرواية لسيرة عائلة شيوعية عاش أفرادها في المنفي المكسيكي والروسي في ظل الحكم النازي ثم التأم شملهم في جمهورية ألمانيا الديمقراطية، لكن يوم الأول من أكتوبر 1989، يوم هروب الابن ألكسندر إلي الغرب، يمثل حدثا محوريا في الرواية، حيث يستعرضه الراوي من منظور كل شخص من شخو ...more
The fact that the author, like his "anti-hero" Alexander, left Berlin just before the fall of the Wall, gives an authentic ring to this saga of four generations of a family living in East Germany under Communism and later unification. The chapters switch back and forth, adopting different viewpoints between 1952 and 2001. This allows us to see the characters' estimation of each other, and adds the intriguing spice of knowing how their lives will turn out, but not yet how or why.

Each chapter is l
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
David Lowther
I found In Times of Fading Light a little bit difficult. It's a sweeping family saga spread over half a century and set in East Germany and Mexico. The problem for me was that the narrative jumped from 1952 to 2001 with several stopping off points and back again. It was also tricky understanding some of the relationships between the characters. I'm quite certain that the translator Anthea Bell did a very good job but I regretted not being able to understand German because I would have prepared t ...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
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.
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
Je to celý takový nějaký trochu hnusný a smradlavý. Jako voda od nádobí, nebo tak něco. Svádělo mě to dát málo hvězdiček, pak mi ale doteklo, že takové nějaké "na hovno" to neudělal spisovatel. Knížka, kde socislismus nevypadá jako jedna velká bžunda, ani jako dramatické kulisy pro disidentské dobrodružství. Tady prostě jen šedivě smrdí.
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