Susan Oleksiw's Reviews > Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall

Stasiland by Anna Funder
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Jun 25, 12

Read in June, 2012

I picked up this book thinking it was a collection of stories that might be as good as the story behind the movie THE LIVES OF OTHERS. When I realized it was memoir/report about what life had been like before the wall fell, I was even more interested. Funder meets various people in East Berlin and other cities that were part of the GDR, including members of the Stasi, and interviews them. She also visits one of the prisons, and sees the torture cells. It's very chilling. There is nothing in crime fiction that comes close to the real terror that the Stasi inflicted on people.

When I finished the book I thought about the writing. Each sentence is perfectly chiseled. She is never literary, searching for similes or turns of phrase to change the nature of the story. It's a remarkable book and I don't think I'll ever forget it. One of the most redeeming passages was a phone call with a woman who left Germany for San Francisco and was somewhat amazed that people talked all the time about what had happened to them and how they were overcoming it. After living under the Stasi and undergoing some horrendous experiences, she had found a place to recover her life.
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