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MARZAHN, MON AMOUR by Katja Oskamp
Translated by Jo Heinrich
Stumbling into middle age, and with her writing career seemingly at a standstill, the unnamed narrator of Katja Oskamp’s disarmingly sweet novella signs up to a crash course in chiropody and sets up shop in Marzahn, a sprawling communist-Era estate in the former GDR. Each day she attends to the feet of her customers, scrubbing soles, scraping bunions and cutting nails. Chiropody, it turns out, is an intensely intimate affair. The chiropodist’s chair is much like a confessional booth. Through successive chapters, each a life in vignette form, we come to know this quirky parade of people, and through them the community of Marzahn as a whole.
Oskamp, herself a chiropodist in Marzahn, writes with quiet defiance, championing the dignity to be found in ordinary life and rejecting the erasure of ageing. What Marzahn, Mon Amor lacks in epiphany or momentum it more than makes up for in wry wisdom and kindness. Indeed, I haven’t read a book as unabashedly generous or kind since Rabih Alameddine’s An Unnecessary Woman. And that was back in 2012. But, I’ll tell you something. Right now it’s exactly the sort of book I needed. Read it and smile.
Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp (Tr. Jo Heinrich)
Peirene Press, 2022