Snow Flurries and Other Stories by Romy Fölck, translated by Rachel Hildebrandt (Weyward Sisters Publishing, 45 pages, July 12)
This compact, gut-punching collection is the first release from the new Weyward Sisters Publishing, which focuses on international noir and crime fiction by women writing in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. After all, what better way to announce yourself than by giving the world four stories that turn questions of morality, revenge, war, and memory on their heads?
Snow Flurries is relentlessly bleak without being depressing as Romy Fölck introduces us to the world of the former East Germany. Taken over by the Soviet Union at the close of World War II, it became the site of repression, shortages, and terror. In Fölck's stories ("Snow Flurries," "The St. Paul's Pact," "Elbe Glimmers," and "Old Guilt"), we witness the collision of past and present as old resentments are handed down across generations and past crimes return to haunt their perpetrators.
In each story, the personal is political: a chance encounter brings together a former prison guard and one of the political prisoners she brutalized; a man denounces his friends to the state police and is killed by his enraged girlfriend; an accidental murder turns out to be anything but; and an older man who experienced first-hand the brutality of the Russian soldiers after the war confronts a Russian emigrant who assaulted his grandson.
Fölck writes with restraint and care, the better to let the horrors and memories she offers us sink into our brains until we feel like we know this world for ourselves. And Rachel Hildebrandt's graceful translation leaves us feeling like Snow Flurries was always already in English. I look forward to much more from Weyward Sisters, and I urge you to check them out.