Ingenious, permeated with rhythm and poetry, Gerhard Jäger tells both of the magic and the brutality of a place that seems to have fallen out of time and space
DER SCHNEE, DAS FEUER, DIE SCHULD
(Snow, Fire, Guilt and Death)
by Gerhard Jäger
Blessing, September 2016
The autumn in 1950 sees the arrival of the young Viennese historian Max Schreiber at a village up in the mountains of Tyrol, where he is to research the murder of a witch there in the 19th century. Finding himself facing an archaic alpine world and a closed and distrustful village community functioning according to its own rules, he feels alienated and isolated. In his loneliness, Schreiber increasingly loses himself in his love for a young mute woman, who, however, is also being wooed by another man. When a peasant dies under mysterious circumstances, a barn goes up in flames, winter erupts with brute force and numerous avalanches descend on the village, the situation in a village in the grips of claustrophobia and fear of death increasingly comes to a head, and in the end Schreiber disappears without trace.
More than half a century later an old man is determined finally to get to the bottom of what happened all those years previously. Pursued by his own shadow, he, too, goes to the village to use one last chance.
Gerhard Jäger, born in 1966, received the Voralberger Literaure Prize in 1996 for a novel that remains to be published. After that he worked as a journalist for the Tiroler Tageszeitung and other publication.