Heinz Strunk has created marvellous plots rotating somewhere between banality and obscenity ever since his debut, “Fleisch ist mein Gemüse”, which exploded in 2004. While “Junge rettet Freund aus Teich” (2013) was a tender celebration of childhood, the highly controversial “Der golden Handschuh”, published in 2016, was probably just too repulsive.
Now Strunk has released “Das Teemännchen”, a collection of short stories which are just brilliant. There are just a few good guys with bad luck like the nervous young actor messing up his audition or the bloke who wonders how he ended up strapped to the blade of a wind turbine.
The truth is that in “Das Teemännchen”, it’s all about the vile and verminous core of the human soul. It tells from the nightmare trip of a young man from Western Germany to the other side of the Iron Curtain to visit his girlfriend’s dad. With the opening “Tempo 100”, Strunk has done a fantastic job in portraying a couple who do everything they can to make the other one’s life worse.
All those stories are less complex and, maybe, compelling than Strunk’s novels. However, “Das Teemännchen” is a phenomenal return to form of one of Germany’s most celebrated but also contested authors. No one else captures our unsettled times more sublimely.
By Heinz Strunk
Published by Rowohlt (www.rowohlt.de)