Born in Bonn in 1973, Anselm Neft studied religion and European ethnology. He worked as a kitchen hand washing dishes, as a management consultant and as a teacher, touring for two years with his medieval folk rock band. His work has appeared in DIE ZEIT and his creative writing has been published in both novel and anthology form. He has lived in Hamburg since 2016, where he is part of the “Liebe für Alle” spoken word performance group. In 2018 he was invited by Nora Gomringer to read at the 42nd Klagenfurt literary festival.
THE BETTER STORY
A boarding school novel, a tragic love story and a spellbinding narrative about leadership and seduction.
Tilman Weber, a sensitive 13-year-old, is sent off to a boarding school on the Baltic Sea coast by his widowed father. The “Free School at Schwanhagen” is considered a flagship school of the reformed education movement where children can unfold their full potential. But Tilman is soon enveloped in loneliness. Then he meets Ella Winter, who is part of the circle surrounding the charismatic Wielands, the married couple who founded the school. When Tilman joins this unconventional “family”, he does not anticipate that it will cost him Ella’s friendship and so much more.
27 years later, Tilman Weber has become a successful writer who has only superficially come to terms with his past. At the funeral of an ex-pupil, he reunites with Ella. It becomes clear that she, too, still grapples with the past. She wants to make public everything that happened at Schwanhagen. But Tilman has never seen himself as a victim and wants nothing to do with the impending scandal.
In a compulsive, galloping read, Anselm Neft tackles big questions: trauma and repression, education, seduction and the permanent bond between victim and perpetrator.