Tales From The Library - The Suspect
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Join us for Tales From The Library: A new connect book review club in the Virtual Coffee Shop. Every Thursday at 3pm we will explore a new book and tale from various different writers. Read the book in advance or listen to our available audio recordings of the stories and then join us for a chat about the story and its deeper themes and meanings. Book recordings will be made available on the Wednesday before the Connect Group chat. Sign up below in order to take part and access the books.
The Suspect By Jurek Becker
This week we will be reading the short story 'The Suspect' By Jurek Becker. The story tells of a man wrapped in the fear of suspicion and the lengths he will go to avail himself from it. The story is presented from the perspective of our nameless character as an inner monologue.
He was a writer and actor, known for Liebling Kreuzberg, Neuner and Das Versteck. He died on March 14, 1997 in Sieseby, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.
Jurek Becker was born, probably, in 1937. His birth date is not entirely clear because his father gave a birth date that was intended to protect the child from deportation.
He lived in the Łódź Ghetto as a child. When he was five, he was sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp and later to Sachsenhausen. His mother died in the Holocaust, but his father survived; father and son were reunited after the war and settled together in East Berlin.
After completing his national service in the East German army in the 1950s, during which time he became firm friends with the actor Manfred Krug, Becker studied philosophy in East Berlin but was expelled for expressing non-conformist views. In the 1960s he wrote film scripts, one of which, Jakob der Lügner ("Jacob the Liar"), he turned into a novel when the film production was halted. It was made into a film by the East German film company DEFA in 1974, and in 1975 became the only East German film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award (in the foreign-language film category), though it did not win. A 1998 remake, starring Robin Williams in the title role, had limited success.
In 1977 he moved from East to West Berlin, though somewhat unusually he retained his East German citizenship. He continued to publish novels and short stories, some on Jewish themes, others not.
1. Think about the period the story is set, how does the time and place affect your perspective of the characters situation?
2. What are your thoughts on the characters belief that he is being 'observed’? are they logical? paranoid?
3. Think about the steps the character takes to seam unsuspicious, how do you feel about the end situation he puts himself in?
4. What do you think the author is trying to convey about the nature of suspicion and society in general?
5. How much do you think the authors background and history have influenced the story of the character? and what comparisons can you see and draw to our modern-day world now?
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