Beret Norman, associate professor of German in the Department of World Languages, recently published an article, “Tectonic Shifts in Antje Rávik Strubel’s ‘Kältere Schichten der Luft,’ ‘Sturz der Tage in die Nacht,’ and ‘In den Wäldern des menschlichen Herzens’: Mapping Change,” in the journal Monatshefte (vol. 113 no. 4 (2021): 513-531).
Norman links geography and water in three novels by the German author Antje Rávik Strubel which Strubel declared to be a trilogy in 2016: “Kältere Schichten der Luft (Colder Layers of Air, 2008),” “Sturz der Tage in die Nacht (When the Days Plunge Into Night, 2011)” and “In den Wäldern des menschlichen Herzens (In the Forest of the Human Heart, 2016).”
Following Strubel’s declaration that these novels form a trilogy, Norman’s article traces Strubel’s use of geography and water in the novels and delineates connections that mark changes in our social landscape. The structural and narrative analysis of “tectonic shifts” uses queer and ecocritical perspectives—such as Jack Halberstam’s emphasis on “detouring and getting lost” as a queer strategy of inclusivity and transformation—to open up these elemental themes and metaphors of geology, atmosphere, and water. Strubel’s use of a frame story in the third installment activates readers to notice the shifting plates of our social understanding. And thus the trilogy marks new map coordinates that extend beyond monogamy and heteronormativity.
In October 2021, Strubel won the German Book Prize, the award for the year’s best novel, for her ninth novel, “Blaue Frau (Blue Woman).”