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Go, Went, Gone
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Archive: Other Books > Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck - 5 stars

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message 1: by Booknblues (last edited Mar 13, 2018 03:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Booknblues | 5311 comments It don't really matter to me
Everybody's had to fight to be free
You see you don't have to live like a refugee (don't have to live like a refugee)
I said you don't have to live like a refugee (don't have to live like a refugee)
You don't have to live like a refugee (don't have to live like a refugee), ah, ah


I wonder if the late, great Tom Petty really understood what life as a refugee is like. We currently live in a time of refugees with an estimate of over 65 million. It seems that the countries of the world have no solutions or understanding of how to deal with these misplaced people. As a country, the USA is considering building a wall along our southern boarder to prevent refugees from flowing into our country and our chief executive is trying to exclude refugees from other countries from entering.

Jenny Erpenbeck, in her novelGo, Went, Gone creatively and sensitively addresses the issue of refugees. Richard, a newly retired classics professor, is feeling the loss of profession and direction. He is displaced and rudderless until he happens upon a refugees involved in a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz, a park in his hometown of Berlin.

Because Richard is in a crisis of his own trying to give meaning to his retirement the tone of the book is melancholy, it has the feel of a boat drifting in a shifting current. I think of Exit West with its hidden doors and am reminded again of how excellent that metaphor was.

Erpenbeck spent a year interviewing refugees and going to government offices and appointments with them. She moved with them to their shifting residences just as Richard does in the book. Richard is slowly drawn into the refugee's lives and hope for a place to be and work. One refugee talks of war and how it takes your memory:

War destroys everything, Awad says: your family, your friends, the place where you lived, your work, your life. When you become foreign, Awad says, you don’t have a choice. You don’t know where to go. You don’t know anything. I can’t see myself anymore, can’t see the child I used to be. I don’t have a picture of myself anymore. My father is dead, he says. And me — I don’t know who I am anymore. Becoming foreign. To yourself and others. So that’s what a transition looks like.

I found Go, Went, Gone to be a very powerful book and I am not alone in that it was recently nominated for the Man Booker 2018 International long list and won the Premio Strega Europeo for 2017. I encourage all who are interested to read it.


message 2: by Jgrace (new) - added it

Jgrace | 2710 comments Another one for the list. Thanks! You seem to be reading a lot of great books on very heavy topics lately.


message 3: by Booknblues (last edited Mar 13, 2018 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Booknblues | 5311 comments I'm having a very good year so far. This one is incredible and I love the author's voice. I love that she did the same thing that she is having Richard do. I love that she choice a man coming to terms with his retirement, because I will soon be coming to terms with mine.

I love the melancholy tone to the book because what else would you use to bring honesty to the refugees story.

And thank you Judith for always noticing and commenting on my reviews. It means a lot to me.

I love that I learned so much about African refugees. Some of them were very eye opening.


message 4: by Jgrace (new) - added it

Jgrace | 2710 comments I depend on your reviews! And I don't think you'll have any trouble adjusting to retirement.


Booknblues | 5311 comments Jgrace wrote: "I depend on your reviews! And I don't think you'll have any trouble adjusting to retirement."

Heh! I'm looking forward to it, but want to keep moving forward and finding new interests as well as pursuing things I am now interested in.

Likewise with the reviews. Are likes are closely aligned and I appreciate it.


Tracy (tstan) | 1173 comments You changed your picture- love it!
I saw this on the International Man Booker list and thought it looked really good. I’m glad you liked it- that moves it on to the TBR.


Booknblues | 5311 comments Tracy wrote: "You changed your picture- love it!
I saw this on the International Man Booker list and thought it looked really good. I’m glad you liked it- that moves it on to the TBR."


I'm not sure this picture is any more recent, but at least it is of me.

This book is going to stay with me for a while. I was really impressed with the writing.


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