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Doris Knecht: Die Nachricht.

de     en     fr     es     sr

The Message. Novel.
Hanser Berlin, 2021.
256 p.; Euro 22,70 (A).
ISBN 978-3-446-27103-6.

Doris Knecht

Excerpt

Ruth Ziegler, a successful screenwriter and – after the accidental death of her husband – the single parent of two coming-of-age sons, is a self-confident woman who has her life firmly under control. Her firm footing is only shaken when, one September afternoon, she receives an anonymous Facebook message referring to an affair her late husband had. At first, Ruth doesn’t attach much importance to the message; as a committed feminist and former presenter of a television show about art, she has been confronted with hatred and violence against women many times before and has learned not to let such insults and threats get to her.

But it doesn’t stop at just one message, it escalates and is also addressed to Ruth’s friends, colleagues, and clients. In conversations with friends, various suspicions soon arise as to who might have sent the messages. Some even suspect Ruth herself as the instigator. Her on/off lover Simon, a psychotherapist, supports her with professional advice. The relationship with Simon, however, proves increasingly toxic, and Ruth finds herself more and more isolated.

In her very current novel, Doris Knecht dispenses with one-dimensional black-and-white tropes, instead she foregrounds complexity and heterogeneity. Her consistently credible protagonist exposes the mechanism of victim reversal that is commonplace in the case of misogynistic attacks and crimes. Her findings are shocking: how omnipresent and tolerated misogyny is in our society and how powerless women often are in the face of it. With this explosive and socially relevant novel, however, Doris Knecht demonstrates that this powerlessness is not a sign of weakness, and that there is no one right way to combat hate and violence.

Abridged version of the review by Veronika Hofeneder, 1 September 2021.
Translation by Ida Cerne.

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