An Honest Man
But an unsettling discovery about his family and a meeting with the mysterious Oz shatters everyth ...more
In Ben Fergusson's An Honest Man our narrator Ralf revisits a particularly significant year in his life. The year is 1989 and Ralf is eighteen and lives with his family in West Berlin. Growing up in a bilingual household (his mother is English), Ralf has always felt like a bit of an outsider. In a few months him and his friends will part ways and go to separate universities (Ralf whose passion is geology plans to study in England). Until then they spend their days and nights relax ...more
Ralf is half-English and plans to go to the UK to study, which is unsettling h ...more
Ralfi is a freshly-graduated son of a British therapist and German pharmacist living in West Berlin in 1989 in the lead up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the summer before starting university he had hoped to grow closer with his friends and girlfriend, but his summer plans hit an abrupt snag when he falls ...more
Against this backdrop we meet Ralf, a West B ...more
The novel is written from the present, but looks back to the months prior to November 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. The story is built skilfully around a series of doubles. The narrator, Raif Dorsam, aged eighteen, is bisexual. His life is stretched between sexual reality and fantasy: his love for Maike Willert and his desire for Osman Ozemir-- the mysterious Oz. As with a mirror facing a m ...more
I'm thinking what should I write about this book. It's strange because I don't know what genre it fits in or I would say it's multi-genre. I don't find myself love it so much but I just can't help myself keep reading, why? Cuz it's good!?One thing I can assure is the good writing in this novel, the setting in Berlin and its theme is something new to me.
It sets in a 1989 over the summer in West Berlin, we follow Ralf and his friends spending the last few months together before off to th ...more
Covering the tumultuous period of summer-winter of 1989 in West Berlin, Ben Fergusson’s new novel centres on 18-year-old Ralf ...more
The book starts with the languorous nonchalance of the hot 1989 Berlin summer it is set in and torpor seems always about to strike but slowly the plot catches pace to an almost satisfying ending.
There are a few elements of the plot that don't come as huge surprises when they finally happen but others are much more unexpected.
This is a gentle spy story but more importantly it is a tender coming of age and moving evocation of Berlin i ...more
Unlike some novels that take place in Berlin, An Honest Man is very textured and doesn't take the concept of "wow Berlin much history very interesting" at face value. The zeitgeist of 1989 comes through very well, captured through portraying particular West Berlin streets/neighbourhoods and what they represented at that time, along with cultural touchstones. Ralf, the protagonist, is a geology buff, and every now and then there are facts about the primordial land ...more
An Honest Man is an honest, decent, fair, above-board book. It does what it says on the tin: a coming-of-age story of a young gay man living in West Berlin right before the Wall is about to fall. But unfortunately it isn't much more than that. The writing is decent (Fergusson does a particularly good job with the historical details and rendering a realistic portrait of West Berlin in the 80s), the characters are alright (most of them are too one-dimensional to be anything more than pa ...more
'I felt as if a void had opened up around me. I realized that up until that point I'd always felt as if my life was following a clear course, but Oz had revealed the giddy multiplicity of lives that I might live, of people I might be. The whole world had become unstable, the things I believed, however laughable it may seems, to be permanent-my girlfriend, my friends, my family, my understanding of myself-had begun to shift. And I had the uneasy feeling that I was just old enough to see these...more
The book is set in berlin, during the 1989`s a specter is hanging over Germany, the fall of the berlin wall is imminent, yet the characters suspend their belief in unification. For who could ha ...more
Doesn’t that make you wanting to pick this book immediately up? Separated Germany in 1989, espionage, secrets, betrayals and ...more
The teens are enjoying a last summer before heading off to University and coming to grips with the coming changes in their own live ...more
Absolutely saturated with memorable details, youthful scenes of summer and moments of intriguing mystery, I found this to be a delightful and gripping read. As a native Berliner myself, I was especially struck with Fergusson's eye for detail in catching the mood and specifics of a Berlin summer. He must have either grown up here or done an ...more
Ben’s debut novel, The Spring of K ...more