The Merging, the second novel by Julia Weber, explores the extent to which it is possible for women to reconcile dual roles as both mother and artist. The Merging is a lyrical examination of the challenges faced by a woman, mother and artist, offering an authentic, honest insight into her life – at once incredibly intimate and deeply political.
While working on her second novel, the protagonist, Julia, discovers she is pregnant with her second child. Immediately she’s full of questions: where is she going to find the time and energy for two children and her writing? How can she be both an artist and a mother? How can she keep those roles separate and still stay on top of everything?
As she writes, Julia enters into a dialogue with the characters emerging in her novel, Ruth and Linda. She gives them similar experiences, allowing them to explore various relationships and ways of life. As the characters in her writing grow to resemble Julia and her situation more and more clearly, their effect on her real, actual life begins to magnify.
The fragments of text featuring the characters in her novel alternate with scenes from the narrator’s life with her partner, H. They discuss her book, writing in general, the everyday routine, living together, love, being parents – life. She records conversations, letters to friends and to her mother, shares memories from her own childhood and describes her fears.
Interspersed are quotations from such authors as Natalia Ginzburg and Kae Tempest. The result is an intermingling of various realities, various kinds of text and various narrative levels.
For the first-person protagonist, Julia, mingling art and life is the only way she can meet the competing challenges of being a woman, a mother and an artist. This intermingling functions in exactly the same way to structure her writing, and the continual shifts between her character’s real life and the fiction ‘Julia’ is writing in her novel are brilliantly staged.
The novel manages to combine intimate moments with the big questions. What are the conditions needed to write? To create a work of art? In mingling all these elements, Julia Weber offers a new archetype to counter the outdated cliché of the lonely genius cut off from the rest of the world: one in which life, perception and writing coexist, with the author at the heart, connected to everything.
The text also possesses a softness, an attentiveness to life’s subtleties. Lyrically written, it calls upon powerful, sometimes surprising imagery. Julia vividly describes the birth of her child, as well as bodies, emotions, arguments and humdrum routine. And none of it gets in the way of her art – it becomes art.
Text by Martina Keller
- Die Vermengung
- Limmat Verlag, Zurich
- Translation rights
- Publication date
- April 2022
Julia Weber was born in Moshi (Tanzania) in 1983 and moved to Zurich with her family in 1985. After finishing her compulsory education, she did an apprenticeship as a photographic assistant and completed a professional degree in design. From 2009 to 2012, Weber studied literary writing at the Swiss Literature Institute in Biel. In 2012, she founded the Literaturdienst, and since 2015, she has been co-founder of the art action group “Literatur für das, was passiert” which supports people on the run. In spring 2017, her first novel Immer ist alles schön was published by Limmat Verlag. In 2019, she founded the feminist authors’ collective “RAUF” with six other writers. From 2019 to 2021, she wrote a weekly column for the «Tagesanzeiger.» In spring 2022, her second book Die Vermengung was published by Limmat Verlag.
Photo: Ayse Yavas