The Last of My Kind
German, Kein & Aber, Zürich, 2018
“The tattoo was an immense mutilation that seemed to incorporate the entire colour spectrum. And other colours too, which only existed on Mother’s back. Nevertheless, I was firmly convinced that the tattoo must portray something more. An image. An object. A story. I didn’t like abstract art back then.”
This the story of Alfred von Ärmel, the last scion of a genteel Swiss lineage: a book about a young man with high-flying plans and a burning desire to be a hero – all in a bid to boost the flagging reputation of his ramshackle family. But how on earth does he become a hero, especially when his favourite pastimes are napping in the afternoon, watering the flowers, taking a stroll and – to top it all – he is notoriously plagued by bad luck? Lukas Linder has no interest in painting a delicate watercolour of this once-grand family: his tale is quirky, outlandish and achingly sad.
Young Alfred lurches from one fiasco to the next; his family is a perfect chamber of horrors. He struggles to understand them and keep up with them, from the myth enshrouded progenitor, known as the ‘Butcher of Marignano’ to the domineering grandmother, the diva-like mother and the goodfor nothing father, not forgetting the ridiculously overtalented ‘uber brother’. This is the chaotic and dysfunctional backdrop against which Alfred – sickly, unappealing Alfred, who has not been blessed with many talents – seeks to do his one great thing and finally find his place in the world. That his thoughts also turn to romance is appropriate enough, but even falling in love has a knack to it and requires a certain feel for the moment – something that is woefully lacking in poor Alfred von Ärmel. Yet despite all this, he continues his quest, for which we must be thankful. Because not only does Lukas Linder manage to craft and elicit unexpected and rare insights from this panoply of the grotesque, he also manages to evoke in the reader a sense of his or her own unfulfilled ambitions – perhaps not as far removed from Alfred von Ärmel’s own far-fetched life.
Lukas Linder writes with such precision and unflinching accuracy about everyday failings that readers may find themselves surprised by how much they laugh and apply this prism of the grotesque to their own lives.
- Der Letzte meiner Art
- Kein & Aber, Zürich
- Translation rights
- Susanna Bieri, email@example.com
- Publication date
- September 2018
Lukas Linder was born in the canton of Zürich in 1984 and studied German and philosophy in Basel. He has written plays for Theater Basel, amongst others, and has been awarded a number of prizes, including the Kleist Prize for Young Dramatists and the Heidelberger Stückemarkt Audience Prize. The Last of My Kind is his first novel.
Photo: Dominique Meienberg