LuckGert Hofmann; Michael Hofmann, trans.

New Directions Publishing 2002
ISBN: 0811215024

A beautiful, bittersweet, and very funny novel about growing up, Luck is perhaps Gert Hofmann’s finest book, and is now brought into English by his son, the acclaimed translator Michael Hofmann.

Luck is the story of a nuclear family: father, mother, daughter, and son. But all is not as it seems, for mother is waiting for her new man to arrive. Everyone makes their own luck in this life! she tells her children. Father sits in his room, planning another novel. Why doesn’t his writing sell? Is it just bad luck? Thomas Mann’s first book was rejected five times, after all. Little sister is the lucky one: she gets to stay home. Then again, the son won’t have to put up with Herr Herkenrath’s annoying habits and his smelly feet. So maybe he is lucky. But will father and son really leave for Russdorf? Or is it Berlin? Or Africa?

Only time will tell, but time is running out. The moving van is on its way and soon the whole family will sit down for the last time to coffee and crumb cake. But maybe, with any luck, Herr Hekenrath will choke on the crumbs. A child’s-eye view of a family in decline, Gert Hofmann’s Luck mixes humor and suspense with a heartbreaking pathos.

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