This novel could have been brave. Its premise has courage. Having tackled the legacy of the war in The Reader, in which a young man confronts his older lover’s Nazi past, Bernhard Schlink now looks at how the collective guilt of the generation whose parents didn’t intervene to stop Hitler caused many of its members to embrace radical politics and attempt violently to smash the state. Jörg is a Baader-Meinhof terrorist who served twenty-four years in prison for killing four people. His clingy sister arranges a country house weekend to celebrate his release.
At first it’s all a bit Agatha Christie. The guests – including a journalist, a female bishop and a dentist – drink aperitifs and marvel at old photographs, admiring the beards they had when they were young and angry. They were all radicals, but while Jörg committed crimes