Things are currently pretty spooky on the German bestseller lists, literary quality is almost universally missing, so it’s not a festival for literary connoisseurs. Which brings us to the book that has electrified the feuilletons for ten days: Uwe Tellkamp’s “Tower” update “The Sleep in the Clocks”. “Der Turm” is said to have been sold almost a million times since it was published in 2008, a genuine bestseller, but not a thriller, not a fast-moving novel, not light fare, but a literary bestseller.
In interaction with Uwe Tellkamp’s often dubious and idiosyncratic political statements, this “tower” success certainly contributed to “The Sleep in the Clocks” becoming the book of the week. Sometimes one got the impression, for example with the two huge pages plus page one optics in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, that Tellkamp was Germany’s state writer, following in the footsteps of Günter Grass and Thomas Mann.
Well then. However, “The Sleep in the Clocks”, like “A Wide Field” by Günter Grass, has so far been consistently panned. Which leads to the question: does this slating damage Tellkamp’s novel? Or do they do the opposite? Are many readers now wanting to form their own opinion, especially those who have bought the “Turm” or even read it in its entirety?
Uwe Tellkamp should of course see himself confirmed with his talk about the “corridor of attitudes” in which there is no place for him, about the “main stream media” that all tick the same way. The “Bild” newspaper celebrated him last week as a “winner” because the “uniform opinion in many newspapers”, which was also the subject of his novel, is now reflected in the unanimous slating: “Proof of evidence succeeded,” concluded the Springer-Blatt.
So one suspects that there will definitely be a counter-reaction, “The sleep in the clocks” is still defended here and there, especially since some unfortunately share the author’s world view anyway. So it could be that Tellkamp’s novel will be on the bestseller lists next week or the week after that at the latest. Which also has its good side: Tellkamp is better, more literary than Kobr/Klüpfel or Carsten Henn.