The Toronto European Book Club is back in 2017 to put the spotlight on Europe’s literary legacy and its influence on contemporary publishing. To celebrate Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation, the members of the European Union of National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in Toronto will look at the connection between books written in Europe and current European literature, which echo their 19th century ancestors. By bridging together different authors, cultures and eras, EUNIC partners in Toronto aim to revisit European classics along with today’s new voices, focussing on former and emerging concerns.
This House is Mine by Dörte Hansen quickly became a German bestseller in 2015. It was translated into English and received critical acclaim. It’s a story of two women and it paints a romantic country life versus the hip lifestyle of Hamburg. At the same time, it criticizes a tacky way of romanticizing country life. On the one hand it tells the story of Vera, who came to the “Altes Land”-region near Hamburg in 1945 as a refugee child from East Prussia and never really feels at home in the old farm house – but still, she never leaves it. On the other hand it tells the story of Anne, Vera’s niece, who cannot live up to the perceived expectations of the bougie-mothers from Hamburg. Her husband is cheating on her so she decides to move in with her aunt in the country. The story addresses the relationship between the two women. It is about escape, home and belonging, about different ways of living and contrasting country and urban life.
Dörte Hansen was born in 1964 and grew up in North Frisia, where she spoke “Plattdeutsch” at home. She studied linguistics, English, Romance languages and Frisian studies in Kiel and wrote her PhD on bilingualism. “This House is Mine” is her first novel. Not only did it become a bestseller, it was also well-received. In the novel, she examines what is home and belonging and demonstrates, that nowadays longing for a romantic country life is shallow, that people would rather play country life but actually understand it. Dörte Hansen lives in the “Altes Land” with her family.