‘The Red Coral Bracelet’ by Judith Hermann translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo

I reviewed this debut collection by German writer Judith Hermann when it was published in translation in 2002. It had been hailed as a triumph by Die Zeit, Le Monde, The Sunday Times, TLS and more, and it astonished me with its brevity, clarity, brilliance, and intense moodiness. This is the opening story and it’s about a woman, her lover, Germany, Russia, and the woman’s great great grandmother’s red coral bracelet. It’s also about how the multigenerational stories we tell, and the artifacts that survive with them, can hold and define us. I ended up owning two copies and giving one away gladly, because this is the kind of book you want everyone to read. I think The Summer House, Later was the compilation that brought me back to loving and believing in the intense, transformative power of a great short story collection.

Collected in The Summer House, Later – A book about the moment before happiness, Flamingo, 2002. An extract consisting of the first 1000 words is available to read online here

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