When Hannes has a five on her classwork and hides her notebook in the closet at home to hide it from her parents, her younger sister Colin also adds hers to cover it, even though she has one. Throughout her childhood she tried to protect her brother and mother from the selfish father for whom …

When Hannes has a five on her classwork and hides her notebook in the closet at home to hide it from her parents, her younger sister Colin also adds hers to cover it, even though she has one. Throughout her childhood she tried to protect her brother and mother from the selfish father, for whom even building a model airplane turned into competition – “as if it were defeat the son “. Something like this must have consequences. As Hannes eats his frustration out of his mind, becomes a bailiff, and fights after his father, Colin begins to write and finds happiness in his love for women. The brothers and sisters are chained for life. “Two nearly forty-year-old children fighting an old conflict, a conflict that had seeped so deep into their bodies that they only knew how to resolve it through their bodies.”

The family that Svealena Kutschke describes has it all. With her fourth novel “Gewittertiere”, the author, born in Lübeck in 1977, enters the heart of debates on diversity. Books have always been about being different. Her debut album “Something Small Well Seal” (2009) was hailed as a “queer cult book”. At a time when “queer” was not on everyone’s lips like today. In her new novel, the Berlin-based writer now demonstrates, as in a sociological experiment, why the two siblings have become what they are. Kutschke finds pictures for it that put you under the skin. While the characters tend to go to extremes, they don’t appear to be stereotypes drawn on the drawing board, but absolutely genuine.

The scary father in the book is almost like a citizen of the Reich. It is true that he joins the garlands with a mixture of compassion and mistrust when a hostel for asylum seekers is on fire. Basically, however, he has the same fear of strangers in his small town in northern Germany as the arsonists. He begins to build a bunker in the garden of the townhouse colony. He has been busy for years. While the family has to eat shrink-wrapped bread at the discounter, “vacation money, Nutella and designer jeans” are poured into the garden. More and more often he is holed up in his excavation pit. Svealena Kutschke depressingly describes the vibe in the living room, the silent war of parents, both of whom shun alcohol, and the fear of children being bullied by classmates at school.

While Hannes stuffs himself some candy, Colin cuts his hair short, wears men’s suits, and struggles without ties and cufflinks, even when visiting family. At twelve, she fell in love with a girl for the first time. She later found a partner in Eda, of Turkish descent, who was already seen as a successful example of school integration, “which was absurd if only because it was apparently assumed that ‘ a special effort was necessary to bring her to the country in which she was born and raised to integrate ”. Eda is a stranger like Colin, who sees her androgyny as a “liberation from patterns of expectation”. Be different to get out of the circumstances. The novel thus becomes a plea for more tolerance.

Colin’s brother Hannes, on the other hand, fails to break free from the old patterns. Not even when he falls in love with Jutta, whose debts he is supposed to collect. At first, their son Felix, during a visit to the zoo, happily puts his hand in that of Hannes, who fears the child’s integrity, which was so strange for someone like him. The bad premonition comes true. After a few months, Hannes is standing outside the apartment door and inside he hears Jutta’s laughter and Felix’s voice cracking with excitement. When Hannes pushes the key into the lock, the two suddenly become silent. Svealena Kutschke manages to create memorable scenes like this over and over again. Characters damaged by their socialization cannot get out of their skin. It is followed by the influence of the parental home. The novel makes this almost physically palpable. It does not provide the explanation for being different, but one. Realistic.

Svealena Kutschke: “Gewittertiere”, Verlag Claassen, 368 pages, 24 euros.