The central character of Visitation is a house on the forested bank of a Brandenburg Lake. The story stretches throughout the 20th century and unfolds in episodes through glimpses in the lives of twelve individuals who have, at one time or another, made this house their home. These individuals, some of whom are identified by a name, are for the most part identified by their occupation: The Gardener, The Architect, The Red Army Officer, The Visitor, The Writer, and so on. They do not interact so much as they observe and are observed without any emotional engagement, although we surmise their joy and pain through a cold detached description of their actions.
Jenny Erpenbeck has been hailed as “the rising star of the German literary scene” (Cosmopolitan); “Wonderful German prose” (Playboy). She has won various awards. However, if this translation is literal and faithful to the original, the author’s style is heavy, pedantic and pretentious, and the underlying story is buried in it. This may be the new wave in Germanic literary style. However, it doesn’t flow easily; several persons speak within the same paragraph, and the dialogue is written without the benefit of quotation marks.