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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Centre of my World
by Andreas Steinhofel
Age Range: 14+
The prologue to this story opens with Glass, a heavily pregnant seventeen-year-old arriving in Germany from America to visit her sister Stella. When Stella is not there to meet her, Glass sets out to walk to her sister’s house. Before she reaches the house she goes into labour and gives birth to the twins in the snow with the help of her sister’s friend Tereza who had set off to meet her.
Seventeen years later Phil and his twin sister Dianne live with their mother in a dilapidated gothic house called ‘Visible’ away from the critical townspeople across the river. Phil has always felt like an outsider for as long as he can remember. All he has ever known about his father is that he was Number Three on his mother’s long list – third in a series of affairs that has set the trend of Phil’s family life.
In a series of flashbacks which are interwoven into the narrative by Phil, the lives of the family and Phil’s own sexuality are revealed. The arrival of Nicholas at Phil’s school creates a volcano of emotions in Phil. He is beautiful in Phil’s eyes, the perfect love object, a beautiful Adonis whose sexuality, like everything else about him appears to have no definition. Then there is Kat, Phil’s possessive best friend who carries out the ultimate betrayal. When dark secrets start to unravel which lay at the heart of the family, Phil decides to break free and move out into the wide world.
This sophisticated literary novel is hauntingly provocative. Subtle and demanding, it is beautifully crafted by its award-winning author Andreas Steinhöfel. A coming-of-age novel about a dysfunctional and unusual family, it captures the universal theme of love and longing together with awakening sexuality. With sensitively observed detail the story unfurls and gathers pace as it progresses. This is not an ‘issues’ book about the pain of a homosexual adolescence, but about yearning, friendship, and wanting to fall in love and experience passion. Beautifully translated by Alisa Jaffa albeit into American English.