Bernhard Schlink’s latest novel is an adaptation of the classic country house murder story in which each of the guests is guilty in some way – only the murders were committed decades earlier.
After 23 years in prison for Baader-Meinhof-era terrorist killings, Jorg is pardoned. His older sister arranges a reception at the old pile she shares with another woman in Brandenburg. Among the guests are Jorg’s lawyer, a dentist whose petulant daughter tries to seduce Jorg, and a journalist who shares a history with Jorg’s sister.
Minor revelations tumble out of each chapter until an intrusion by Jorg’s estranged son disrupts the party. His contemptuous attack on his father strips all moral ambiguity from Jorg’s ideological self-justification. The remainder of this slim novel comprises unsatisfactory ruminations on the ethics of armed struggle, which Schlink’s characters struggle to articulate with any conviction.
The Weekend, by Bernhard Schlink translated by Shaun Whiteside, Phoenix RRP£7.99, 215 pages