Mareike Schneider was born in 1981 and lives in Leipzig. She studied creative writing and cultural sciences in Hildesheim. She was awarded a prize at an Open Mike event in 2014.
The art student Franka Raben moves to her mother’s hometown to help her father look after her grandmother. That’s one reason. The other is that she has nowhere else to go.
Grandma Maria, who used to stand with open arms by the garden gate, now claims to be blind and screams as if possessed every time she is forced to leave her house. She complains incessantly, yearning for every day to end. Franka’s father, a pot-smoker and Maria’s son-in-law, tends patiently to her garden and keeps things in repair. For his trouble, he is referred to by Maria merely as The Moor. The exact term Maria uses is part of the local vernacular of the Vogtland region that Maria left to be with her future husband and which she has sorely missed all her life. In her memories, which she often shared with Franka, she revives people, countries, dogs and old customs. Like the Christmas food ritual called The Nine, where nine different open sandwiches are served on Christmas Eve, and each person is allowed to have only one piece of each if they are to enjoy good fortune in the coming new year.
In Mareike Schneider’s novel, everyone seems to regard the impending death of the matriarch as though it will solve conflicts long repressed. With great narrative power and originality, Schneider tells the story of a family at whose centre is a gaping hole. And although the family lost its focal point a long time before the death of the grandmother, its members still seem unable to let go.