Who is the Rennläufer? A boy, a young god, an Austrian skiing champion racing through the physical drama of the slalom moving like a catalyst through the emotional drama of four extraordinary people...
Around the figure of the Rennläufer, the racer, Nina Galen has woven a stirring, satiric novel of ever-increasing intensity. To a ski resort in the Austrian Alps she brings a newly-married couple a talented postwar German architect and his beautiful, Jewish-American wife. Here Baldur and Freia Volken encounter two disturbing individuals. One is an enigmatic young American, Freia's first lover, whom she struggles to convince that the the girl he knew as Ada Levin has been successfully transformed into Freia Volken. The other is Herr von S, a former Luftwaffe pilot still loyal to the Nazi creed, against whom she struggles not only for the possession of her husband's Teutonic soul but for the love of the young blond god flashing down the white slopes, the Rennläufer himself.
With savage ironic wit as well as drama, Nina Galen succeeds in weaving together two of the strongest and most controversial themes in today's world: the crisis of the German heritage and the self-destruction of Jewish identity. Yet above all, The Rennläufer is a vividly human novel the story of young men and women thrust together by circumstance, and trapped by the inevitability of their hate.
The reviewers say:
"A sharp-eyed, witty writer. Miss Galen's talent burns with a very hard light." The New Yorker
"Her irony is devastating. Her comedy is outrageous and exact." The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"The contacts among [the characters] are explosive, funny, tragic and constantly surprising; the book is comic, ironic and profound. A book with genuine wit." Book of the Month Club News
"The motives involved are composed of so many facets that it is possible to keep seeing the events in different perspectives." Irish Times
"A distinctive blend of comic intelligence and weightiness. Miss Galen maintains a brilliant poise between the vast horrors of her implications and the comic minutiae of her social observations. Really striking." The New Statesman (London)
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