The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck

The End of Days

Winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Hans Fallada Prize, The End of Days, by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, consists essentially of five “books,” each leading to a different death of the same unnamed female protagonist. How could it all have gone differently?—the narrator asks in the intermezzos. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next cha...

Details The End of Days

TitleThe End of Days
Release DateNov 11th, 2014
PublisherNew Directions
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, European Literature, German Literature, Cultural, Germany, Novels

Reviews The End of Days

  • Friederike Knabe
    Already the title of Jenny Erpenbeck's new novel, ALLER TAGE ABEND (THE END OF ALL DAYS), gives me pause. It is an old fashioned phrase that goes back at least to Martin Luther. The story begins at the grave site of a baby girl, and, while the grandmother accepts this death without questioning the why?, the thoughts of the mother wander into all the possible future lives that the girl might have had... "One death is not the end of all days", firs...
  • Dem
    I have read 50% of this book and I am no further on than when I had 1% read as this book is making absolutely no sense to me. When is the right time to give up on a book? I hate giving up on a novel but I am getting zero satisfaction from this story and frustration is starting to set in. So I think now is the time to part company with this one. One of the difficulties for me is that neither the main character or her parents, sister, husband, gran...
  • ·Karen·
    A child dies. But this is not the end, no, the beginning. What if she hadn't died? What if her life went on and she died in the despair of unrequited love, or in a senseless pogrom of 'Trotskyite' elements, or celebrated, at the height of literary fame, or in obscurity, forgotten and alone in an old people's home? What does it take to survive the twentieth century? To be tossed on the waves of two wars, the Spanish flu, economic collapse, totalit...
  • Roger Brunyate
    Death After DeathI read the first long section of this intricate novel in German as Aller Tage Abend over a year ago. It was about the time that Kate Atkinson's Life After Life was going to press, so there can be no accusation of plagiarism between the two authors, but the concepts are nonetheless very similar. Atkinson tells a forty-year story in which a setback in one chapter—an infant's death, say—is immediately followed by another in ...
  • Lark Benobi
    Breathtaking, vivid writing but it almost didn't feel like the writing belonged in a novel. It felt like it should have been music, instead. As I read I got the same feeling I get when I listen to Barber's Adagio for Strings. As with the Barber piece there are beautiful incantatory phrases that build to piercingly beautiful and very sad resolutions. But the resolutions are lyrical and thematic, rather than providing narrative closure. The languag...
  • Holly
    The first two sections of this novel took my breath away. I slowed my pace down to a close-reading level, absorbing the resonances between the first two possible lives of this girl-child and entertaining the possibilities in subtle shifts that might change a life. I immediately found it more profound than Kate Atkinson's Life After Life which starts at a galloping pace (and a very different style). An infant who suffers a crib-death finds herself...
  • Viv JM
    There were moments of great beauty and poignancy in this book, but for some reason it just left me a bit cold - I never really felt a connection. The lack of character names didn't really work for me, I found it too baffling. Probably a case of it's not the book, it's me but still, I feel slightly relieved to have finished!!
  • M. Sarki
    1970-01-01 is an old man back in my home town in Michigan, my place of birth, who sits alone in a chair in a rest home, no longer aware of who he is or what he is doing there, or anywhere. He no longer remembers what certain words mean nor what gadgets are meant to do, or even why tasks have to be performed. The only meaning left in his life are the brief moments of memory that come to him in a flash, but then m...
  • Xenia Germeni
    Μετά από την ανάγνωση ενός τόσο σπουδαίου βιβλίου τι μπορείς να γράψεις ; Είμαι μια αναγνώστρια που πραγματικά δεν ξέρει τι θα μπορούσε να γραψεί για τη συγγραφέα που της έκλεψε την καρδια. Μετά τον Κρασναχορκάι (Πόλεμος και Πόλεμος) και τον Καμπρ...
  • Hugh
    This is a profoundly moving book, a poetic reflection on the fragility of life and the endurance of the human spirit which follows the life of a woman through the traumas and upheavals of twentieth century Europe, from Austria to East Berlin via Moscow. In each section of the book, alternative scenarios are explored in which small and apparently random events lead to her early death, and the story often moves focus between global events and deepl...
  • Hakan T
    Alman yazar Jenny Erpenbeck’in End of Days’i (başlık İncil’deki kıyamet kavramına bir gönderme), 20. yüzyıl Avrupa tarihinden bir ailenin/kadının dramı temelinde bir kesit. Beş ana bölümden oluşan roman, 1902’de Avusurya-Macaristan imparatorluğunda taşrada yaşayan bir çiftin 8 aylık bebeğinin ölümüyle başlıyor. Ama kitap bu bebeğin alternatif hayat hikayesi. 1.Dünya Savaşı sonrasının zorlu yaşam koşullar...
  • Jill
    A few years ago, I discovered – through the recommendation of a friend – a stunning and poetic little masterpiece titled Visitation, containing a haunting narrative that carefully wove its way in and out of history and time. The author was Jenny Erpenbeck and, since then, I’ve eagerly awaited her newest work. And finally, it’s here.The theme she so beautifully explored – the fluidity of history and time – is front and center of this b...
  • Barbara
    “The End Of Days” was published nearly the same time as Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life” which is interesting that two authors had a similar idea at the same time. I favor “The End Of Days” in comparison of the two. Erpenbeck went deeper into the idea of: what if events were different, how would that affect a life? How would one person change based upon events. What part of our character is a result of events and what is inherent?I...
  • Suanne Laqueur
    Wow. That was really something else...
  • Karina
    I won't give 5 stars to any old book. But just for a change this one thoroughly deserves all the accolades. It's just so beautifully done. This is an absorbing novel that had me completely under its spell. The theme being the various alternative lives - or indeed deaths - of one woman. The way that circumstances intervene to decide our fate. If on a certain day a young lady didn't take her normal route through the streets of old Vienna. If she di...
  • Joyce
    Outstanding! I almost want to re-read it just to take in more of the beauty and depth of the words. The writing is simple, soulful, gorgeous and masterful. It seems like I "felt" vs. "read" this book. I want to stand up and cheer for such an accomplishment. It's something how a book comes to you. This one was highly recommended by Jill, a friend on Goodreads. And even so, you never really know what to expect and if the book will have the same imp...
  • pax
    Jenny Erpenbeck has just joined the list of my favorite writers. First "Visitation" ("Heimsuchung") and now this book. And once again: not a word too much, not a thought wasted. Recommended does not even begin to cover it, but read it on a sunny day, when you are able to stomach 90 years of in big parts Jewish history perfectly condensed into one book of not even 300 pages.(And yes, I am writing this in English because I want everyone to read it,...
  • Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
    I found this tremendously powerful and moving. A best of the year book for me, & I immediately want to read everything Erpenbeck has written.
  • Moira Macfarlane
    Wat een indringend gevoelig geschreven portret waarin het leven van een vrouw langzaam vorm krijgt. Of niet, want hangt niet elk leven af van de willekeur van het moment? Zo sterft ze, zo leeft ze.Prachtig van taal en ritme, zo vloeiend dat het lijkt of het gezongen is…. Dan weer zacht en amper uitgesproken dan weer melodisch en vol harmonie en waar het leven raast weer hard en staccato.
  • Katherine Kendig
    Reading The End of Days felt kind of like taking a good class: exciting at the beginning as the material is introduced, then increasingly difficult and frustrating, but - as the semester draws to a close - increasingly satisfying, in hindsight.The characters in this book, about seven of which are meaningful POV characters, don't have names. Usually that kind of trickiness can only succeed for the duration of a short story, if that... But somehow,...
  • Patrizia
    Vita, morte, caso e tempo, sono i grandi temi intorno ai quali si sviluppa questo romanzo.Si apre con la morte in culla di una bambina in Galizia. Morte improvvisa, che cambia il ruolo - nonché l'esistenza - delle persone intorno a lei: la madre non è più madre e torna a essere solo figlia; la nonna non è più nonna e ridiventa solo madre e figlia della bisnonna, che torna ad essere solo nonna e madre. Ha il tono di una ballata triste, questa...
  • Gumble's Yard
    “Life After Life” style book – examining the various lives of one women – each section finishes with her death, with then an intermezzo imagining how she might have lived rather than died and filling in some more detail. The first section assumes that she dies as a baby in Galacia (on the fringes of the Austro Hungarian Empire in the 1900s) and follows the fortunes of her Jewish mother and Catholic railway official father as they split af...
  • Marc Nash
    This book is very similar in conceit to Kate Atkinson's "Life After Life", where the book starts with a baby's death and then posits alternative histories if she lived. Atkinson's book studies the First and Second World Wars for a largely British perspective (with one section in pre-war Germany), whereas Erpenbeck's is set across MittelEuropa from the First World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Of the two I prefer Erpenbeck's, because Atkinso...
  • Tuck
    a new directions book , multiple awards winner. clever way to tell europe saga of 20th century, five characters as same person, but at different time periods, different situations. none being 1%er's or otherwise very privileged. thus lots of dying, running, hiding, trying failing war inhumanity and borders both open and closed.
  • Kirsty
    I have read all of Erpenbeck's books to be translated into English so far, and loved the idea behind The End of Days. The novel gives five wildly different scenarios in the life of one woman; in the first 'Book', for instance, she suffers a cot death, and the grief of her parents ensues; in others, she becomes a prostitute, or goes somewhat off the rails. Erpenbeck has done a marvellous job of setting The End of Days against the backdrop of the t...
  • Stacia
    Taut & haunting. This book made me immensely sad.
  • jeremy
    the most recent work from german author jenny erpenbeck to appear in english, the end of days (aller tage abend) is composed of five "books" and four intermezzos. spanning ninety years of the twentieth century, erpenbeck's beautifully written new novel is the story of an unnamed woman (whom we come to know as "comrade h." and, later, "frau hoffmann") born in galicia (eastern europe, not spain). each of the end of days's five books finds the prota...
  • LindaJ^
    This is a book about five possible lives for one woman lived from the late 1890's to the early 1990's. Let's refer to the woman as "H." She is born, I think, in Poland. Her mother is Jewish and her father is a "goy." (view spoiler)[It was H's grandmother who decided H's mother should marry a goy, after her husband was beaten to death. In the first life, H's grandmother, after H's too early death, tells H's mother about her father. It is the last ...
  • B. Rule
    This is a really good book, but I don't think it was great. Each chapter describes the effect of the death of a woman, identified only as Comrade Hoffman, and the circumstances of her life and loved ones as affected by the particular death. The book touches on some really interesting historical settings, as she's born at the tail end of the 19th century and (in some chapters) lives through WWI, the rise of Stalin in the Soviet Union, and the diss...
  • Calzean
    This book shows a craftsman in action - Erpenbeck provides a beautifully worded story through 20 Century European history and how a small decision can change (in this case in dramatic terms) a life. A girl is born and as a baby suffocates. The mother and father look on helplessly and the baby dies. Or the mother reaches out for a handful of snow, places it on the baby and causes the baby's heart to restart. And so on through the book as we trace ...