A woman and her niece are bound together and driven apart by loves, desires, frustrations, and addictions.
East Berlin, a few years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Eva, a retired nurse, makes it through her day on a combination of stimulants and sleeping pills, wine and brandy. She finds fleeting joy in American jazz and blues records, and occasional visits from her married lover. Her friendly teenaged neighbor is her closest companion. Then her American niece, Maggie, arrives in Berlin. Eva is thrilled—Maggie is just the companion she’s been seeking. But happiness begins to slide from Eva’s grasp as Maggie’s own fierce drug addiction reveals itself.
Tante Eva is a story that deftly takes in decades of family life and German history, estrangement, joys, and disappointments. It is a portrait of East Berlin in the years after the Wall came down, and of an overlooked woman pursuing happiness and sexual pleasure. It is the finest book yet from Paula Bomer, an author whose work Jonathan Franzen describes as “some of the rawest and most urgent writing I can remember encountering.”