“Hartmut lived with us. Yesterday he set himself on fire.”
When it comes to soccer, ten-year-old Hanno Kelsterberg knows everything there is to know. This is also true when it comes to staging demonstrations. For the past two years, the ascetic protester Hartmut Gründler has been living in his family’s basement apartment. Gründler is an unyielding opponent of the current political system, and he has turned Hanno’s once comfortable life upside down. While his father dismisses the man in the basement with an uncomprehending smile, Hanno’s mother is increasingly drawn into the ascetic fighter’s struggle for a better world, his uncompromising commitment to the truth, and his peaceful demonstrations against nuclear energy. From this point on, Hanno’s life is inextricably linked to the resistance movement against nuclear power. He raises money to help Hartmut continue his fight, hands out flyers side-by-side with his mother, is present when Gründler chains himself to the Cologne Cathedral to make a political statement and when he starts yet another hunger strike. The divide between Hanno’s parents deepens. Their ultimate separation is catalyzed by Gründler’s final, desperate decision to set himself on fire in Hamburg. In the wake of the events, Hanno and his mother move to Berlin, where she continues Gründler’s efforts as trustee of his estate and legacy. Only years later, while cleaning out his mother's apartment after her death, does Hanno realize the extent to which Hartmut Gründler’s unyielding radicalism overshadowed his own life.
- A moving novel about a family unexpectedly touched by world events.
- Insightful and provocative, yet warmhearted and funny
“Lucky for us, Nicol Ljubic is an author.” Volker Weidermann
“Ljubic captivates the reader. His narrative style is both descriptive and anecdotal. He depicts what is going on inside little Hanno just as convincingly as he does adult Hanno’s search. This is the challenge when it comes to this book. It has a good narrative style and a sensitivity for nuanced voices. Ljubic successfully and convincingly captures young Hanno’s combination of naivete and enthusiasm, since Hanno himself is a person on fire, even for such things as soccer and soccer trading cards.” MDR Kultur
“Nicol Ljubic’s story is simultaneously historical and very contemporary. Fanaticism and radicalization have become subjects in today’s German living rooms. The fear of terrorism and the refugee crisis are dividing families and friends just like the RAF and the anti-nuclear power movement did years ago.” MDR Kultur