Max Annas was a journalist and worked for many years in South Africa on a research project studying South African jazz. He now lives in Berlin. He was awarded the German Crime Writing Prize for both his debut novel The Farm and his second book, The Wall.
It could happen, and sooner than we think. The EU collapses, with nationalists and xenophobes at the reins of government across Europe. In this new reality, living space in Germany is allocated using new criteria: Anyone without a German passport is deported, and the state rescinds the nationality of many of its citizens. Most Germans with foreign roots find themselves transported to “transit camps”, and hope for an international solution involving a deal with another country that will accept them. But even the world’s most corrupt regimes refuse to take the German refugees, claiming that they will be too difficult to integrate socially. What they mean is that they will bring too much potential for turmoil and change.
Finsterwalde used to be a bustling provincial town, but has since been cleared of its population and turned into a camp. Among the thousands of internees here are Marie and her two children. Food is scarce and the perimeter fences are tightly guarded. There is no infrastructure, and the internees concentrate only on survival. A rumour makes its way round the camp that three black children are stranded alone in Berlin. Marie decides to find a way out of the camp to save the three children from certain death.
In a parallel narrative, the novel tells of a Greek married couple who were once invited into the country to help fill vacancies on the job market. Eleni, a doctor, is allocated a dilapidated surgery in Berlin. Theo finds traces of a woman called Marie who ran the practice before them. Despite a strict ban, Theo begins a search to find her.