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"Zbinden invites comparison with Leo Tolstoy's Ivan Ilych."—Alexander Starritt, The Times Literary Supplement
Lukas Zbinden leans on the arm of his carer in an old people's home. Step by step, the devoted walker recounts his life with his late wife and his son. She loved nature walks; he loved city streets. What was the secret of their lifelong love? And why is it so hard for him to talk to his son? A life-affirming novel about love.
Christoph Simon was born in 1972 in Switzerland. After travels through the Middle East, Poland, South America, London, and New York, he settled in Bern, Switzerland.
long as you’re strong and brave enough to ask for it.’ ‘Perish the thought!’ Every single day, my grandmother took a walk through Schüpfen and had time to chat to everyone she knew. And imagine: back then, there were no washing machines and no Moulinex appliances. She had four children to look after, wooden floors that had to be swept, paraffin lamps, a wooden kettle. She scrubbed clothes with soap until her nails were bleeding. In winter, she had to get up at five to put a bundle of wood in
He gives the book back to me and glances at me, watchfully, over the top of his steel-rimmed glasses. ‘Now, Lukas, have you any idea what could be meant by that?’ ‘Yes, Granda, I think so. See and die. Maybe other people see it differently, but for me it means: you are born, live and die. You look at the thing and pass on. It doesn’t matter whether you work or not, make something of yourself or remain a zero, whether you run around madly or stand still.’ I look at the book. ‘Matthäus looked at
between the ficus on the ground floor and this one, above the second, is striking. – This one grows better, much better. Have you already introduced yourself to Frau Beck, of the cleaning team? She mops the floor, wipes my shelf, hoovers my carpet, airs my room, and I make the time pass more quickly by telling her about the things going on around her. Frau Beck replies, wearily, ‘Oh, Herr Zbinden, you and your constant talk about going for walks. There’s no accounting for taste, they say. The
we left the village to find a place to sleep. We found a grove and started to unpack among the bushes. The air was heavy with the scent of thyme. We rolled ourselves up in our sleeping bags and chatted to the night-time sounds of the frogs, crickets, mosquitoes, donkeys, dogs and nightingales. ‘There’s this yearning simply to be with him,’ I said, bitterly. ‘This odd looking forward to something you know, something familiar, and then the disappointment when we are together. Because we can’t
Dürig, tall and broad-shouldered even in his old age, had already been ferried out in the goods lift, like a damaged pedestal. Since the conversion, the ‘adaptations’, this staircase has been anything but generous, I have to say. Despite the paintings that change with the seasons. The Home’s central location, the view from the attic and the pretty courtyard are really the only things that, for me, justify the hefty service charges. And the people – of course, the people – the old and the ancient.