up2date. Das Onlinemagazin der Universtiät Bremen

Book Corner: Annette Berneburg

In this series, we will be introducing people on campus and their favorite books.

University & Society

Annette Berneburg is basically surrounded by books on a daily basis. Reading is her business as manager of the university bookshop. She has an overview of all new publications and enjoys giving advice. For example, for books with an exciting story, a real plot, and complex, innovative language. Her expertise is valued highly.

Despite the corona crisis and the deserted campus, she opens her shop between 09:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day. The bookshop owner also personally delivers books to her customers by bike. One of her loyal customers calls her “my Amazon” – a nod to a well-known company. During the interview in a café that has just reopened in the Schwachhausen district, she pulls out two books. “I just can’t decide. Both of them are special and I want to recommend them,” says Annette Berneburg. One of them is the sensitive book On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (what a fantastic title!) by the Vietnamese author Ocean Voung. We finally agree on the recently published novel The Milkman, which won the Man Booker Prize and many more awards.

Who is the Milkman?

The story told by the Northern Irish Anna Burns is nightmarish and ironic at the same time – a grand mixture. The reading expert reads the first sentence: “The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died.” Who is the milkman? He never delivered milk, took no orders, never had milk in his delivery truck. The milkman, as one finds out in the course of the book, is the leader of the local paramilitary. Even though no town is explicitly name: “One recognizes quite quickly that it’s about the IRA and the conflicts in Northern Ireland in the 1970s,” says Annette Berneburg.

Brother-in-Law One and the Maybe-Boyfriend

In the book the “land on the other side of the ocean” and “on the other side of the main road” are mentioned. The readers have to put in work and decode. One of the quirks of the author’s strange style is that she names no names. Brother-in-law one, brother-in-law two, the maybe-boyfriend…. “You have to get used to it but then it’s great,” emphasizes the bookseller.

18-Year-Old Stalked

And the actual story? A plot that fits perfectly into the #MeToo era. The first-person narrator, who is 18 years old, in love with 19th century books that she reads when she goes on walks, suddenly has a stalker. A 41-year-old man. “A big cheese who ambushes her and knows everything about her,” summarizes Annette Berneburg. In an almost breathless narrative an “undesired approach” is portrayed and parallel to this, the incurable and oppressive atmosphere of two parties in a religious landscape is illustrated. This works fantastically in the novel because there is also something of the Simplicissimus magazine in there. The text is eerie and roguish at the same time. “Inconceivable situations in some cases,” says the interviewee.

Great Team

Annette Berneburg doesn’t give anything else away. Those who are interested can order the book from her and she will bring it to you as the “Amazon”. She has owned the “dein unibuch” bookshop on the Boulevard, which has been around since 1991, since 2001. The shop offers everything from novels to specialist and teaching literature and children’s books. The boss greatly appreciates both of her staff – Karlheinz Winterfeldt and Sören Kipp. One can see what a great team they are on a laid-back photo in the website’s gallery. You can also find new non-fiction recommendations on the website at regular intervals. Take a look: www.unibuch-bremen.de

Do you have a book recommendation that you want to share with other enthusiastic readers? Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, just send an email to the up2date. editors up2date@uni-bremen.de and we’ll come to you for an interview.

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