Friday, January 18, 2013
Kenya was a British colony in the 1940’s and the Nairobi expats are baffled by, and not terribly welcoming to, the influx of Jewish refugees from Germany. Walter and Jettel, who were assimilated affluent Jews in Germany, hate their outsider status and want nothing more than to return to Germany. Their faith in the average German (as opposed to the Nazis) is unwavering, and they live for the end of the war when they can return to Breslau.
I’ve read a lot of books about immigrants to the U.S. but hardly any about newcomers trying to fit into British culture. The experiences seem very different. Much is made in this book about the family’s strange unpronounceable name, Redlich – a name which would hardly be remarked upon in the U.S. I wonder if the Redlich family would have felt so eager to return to Germany if they had emigrated to the U.S. instead of Kenya. Did people who came to the U.S. have an easier time fitting in than those who went elsewhere? By the 1940’s the U.S. population contained vast numbers of immigrants from Europe so the Redlich family might not have felt so alien.
Nowhere in Africa was made into a popular movie in Germany and in 2001 it won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. I watched the trailer on imdb.com and it looks good. Zweig also wrote a sequel called Somewhere in Germany which I plan to read soon.
(Book 2, 2013)