Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), 14.08.2005

"The waiting is over: Raul Zelik's new book is the novel to end "Berlin Affairs" in contemporary German literature. [...] The way Raul Zelik leads his readers at breakneck speed through today's Berlin, the way he runs around building sites, Turkish cafés, architects' lofts, the property speculation scene, around the whole of Berlin, invents stories, punchlines, jokes, atrocities, the way he puts all the stories together to form a whole, to form a real, readable novel of the here and now, is magnificent and very well worth reading!"

taz - die tageszeitung, 27.8.2005

"Zelik's novel plays on a neglected genre: the farce. The author gives grouchy resistance activism a bizarre, incredibly flattering new look: the constant jokes are the pounding motor of the story, not its raison d'être. [...] Exaggeration is Zelik's method. Radical means like blackmail, robbery and doping are also radical means for his protagonists. But they are accompanied by such laughable debates, cutting swathes across the pre-potent vocabulary of postmodernism, that it's a miracle they are ever enacted. Reading it has one gasping for breath between screams of laughter."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19.9.2005

"Mitte? Where is Mitte? Social impotence wins the day: Raul Zelik's slapstick novel of the modern world between crisis and self-fulfilment develops into a turbulent comedy that sources its humour from this very incongruence: shifting the value benchmarks to clichéd grass-roots democracy leaves the average state of mind unchanged in its amplitude: rage, arguments, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, Robin Hood fantasies, all this has a real core, whereas the business world reduced to a cycle of outsourcing functions merely as a grotesque backdrop. But it's just this enterprising pole of society that the flatmates from Kreuzberg get involved with."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13.10.2005

"In the end one closes the book and has one last question. In 'Berlin Affairs' there is a character who is paid by creditors to follow the debtor Wolfgang around everywhere he goes, wearing a bunny costume. Business dinners, supermarkets and private places – this unemployed man is hired to go almost everywhere. This kind of persecution is new and impressive, maintaining a human face in an animal guise. Raul Zelik probably didn't think the whole idea up, the bunny technique probably really exists. That would explain why so many man-sized bunnies have been wandering across Potsdamer Platz or sitting silently on the train recently. Just sitting there, giant and fluffy. Are the bunnies not performance art after all? But if this is true, what misery does it reveal? We can't say for sure as yet, but perhaps Raul Zelik has written a political novel after all." Kai Wiegandt

Freitag, Literatur, 21.10.2005

"The novel is funny, witty and has humour in the oldest sense of the word: spirit. Spirit at drinking strength, pleasantly flavoured. [...] Once you've finished reading it, you've got through a mixture of Comedy of Errors, Berlin Blues and The Big Lebowsky – and want more." Erhard Schütz

De:bug, October 2005

"Berlin Affairs is a lucky break. Created out of a joint screenplay by Raul Zelik and Detlev Buck, it plays brilliantly on clichés of alternative life in Kreuzberg, without losing its countenance. [...] Raul Zelik gives a sharp and coherent portrayal of a sub-society that has always been slightly stuck in the 80s, with its claim to political correctness complicating everything and making everything slightly ridiculous. He writes smoothly and convincingly about a group of touchingly intellectualised people who hold firm to their ideals, lovably stumbling from one ideological trap to the next."


Love in a bankrupt society

Life in Berlin isn't just more extreme, it's more complicated than in the rest of Germany too. A female Muslim shopkeeper extols the virtues of a quickie in the corridor. A property speculator curses capitalism. A sixties dropout is worried about her youngest son's future. His name is Mario, he's in his early thirties, and he shares a flat in Adalbert Strasse. One fine day the Romanians turn up: penniless and now homeless builders from Potsdamer Platz, waiting in vain for their wages. As former neighbours, they are granted asylum in the kitchen. But because Mario can no longer stand all the deep-fried food and "Kusturica gipsy trombones" on the tapedeck, he and his flatmates come to a decision. They'll help out their friends – and do a spot of debt collecting for them. And so the flatmates are transformed into a fearsome debt collection company for all occasions. After Mario starts a relationship with the shopkeeper Melek, his new activities get in the way of his businessman brother, of all people. Raul Zelik's new novel – inspired by a screenplay written as a joint venture with Detlev Buck – is a gripping and heart-rending comic portrait of a society in flux. The public mood may well be gloomy. But sometimes it's the so-called losers who don't let a crisis get on top of them. Especially not a crisis of the fundamental kind.

About the author

Raul Zelik, born in Munich in 1968, lives in Berlin. Author of the novels Friß und stirb trotzdem, La Negra, Bastard; also the short story collection Grenzgängerbeatz and the non-fiction work Made in Venezuela. Scholarship holder on the Bachman literature course in Klagenfurt, Alfred Döblin scholarship, Walter Serner award. Berlin Affairs is his first book published by Blumenbar.



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