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Die Goldene Stadt by Sabrina Janesch

Thursday, August 24, 2017
Guess you could translate the title The Golden Town. A book about Peru, the Inca and their legendary gold and a man who never got his historic fame for discovering Machu Picchu first. Sounds confusing and interesting altogether?

Die Goldene Stadt* by Sabrina Janesch
Published by Rowohlt Berlin on August 18, 2017
ISBN 978-3-87134-838-9
Pages 539
Format Hardcover
Source ARC by Publisher




“How do you know it´s El Dorado when you find it?”, Singer asked abruptly. Berns let his papaya sink. Pepe looked now. Amusement rose in Berns. This question had never occurred to him; He was more than certain that the lost city of the Inca would tell him immediately and unequivocally. “I´ll see it”, Berns answered. El Dorado was built by people like me. That´s why people like me will find it.” (personal translation)

My Review

Right, it does. And exactly that was the reason for me, why I wanted to read this book. 
The excerpt I got to read upfront sounded so unusual, so unique, that I got very interested and asked for it. 



Berns grew up with a huge fantasy. Where others only saw a plain field, river or mountain, he always thought about what if. But in his family, a dreamlike fantasy wasn´t the best thing to have. But Berns was smart. Learning was easy for him, his mind eager to learn everything new and historic. And the Inka were his big passion. And one day, when he was supposed to start his military career, he started the adventure of his life instead. Peru.



While reading the excerpt I was astonished over the unusual style the author had. There were pictures among the text. And many details were brought to the reader´s attention in an old language, with a huge variety of words and in a style, that reminded me very much of some books I had to read during my time at school. Interesting. 

Soon my thrill and interest turned into something far less thrilled and interested. There are so many pages where I got to read stuff I was not interested in and where I thought that was not necessary for the story at all, should have been left out. Other pages were a real hit. Very entertaining, giving my fantasy great pictures and a sense of how the life back then was. 

Most of this story is easy to understand. Some parts aren´t unless you are familiar with the topic when it comes to Sailing, ships in general or the military. Well, I am not one of those people and the author didn´t bother to give her readers an explanation in the following text. And there are some scenes where you read total kitschy stuff, and where I thought: Oh please! Because it didn´t fit into the rest. Seemed completely out of line.



There isn´t much to say about the figures. August Rudolph Berns is in the beginning of this book a boy I liked. His huge fantasy, how he thought and felt about others were quite impressive. Later he turned into a liar, a man who is dominated by his dream to find the legendary Inka gold and who does everything – even betraying others – to achieve it. Not the man I would want near me. Having big dreams and living for it is one thing if you´re doing it in a nice and honest way. But cheating, lying and even risking lives for it, isn´t what I call good. 



Less would have been more here. No doubt, the author has done her research and put her heart into this book. But I still don´t know whether this was a historic novel with some adventurer genre in it or a pure adventurer thing with way too many historical details. Despite that, I guess that every reader who loves to dig into a very detailed novel with almost no profoundness will have his fun with it. For me, it was sometimes a real torture and in the end around average. Sorry, but it is the way how I feel about it.








*This ARC was kindly provided to me by Rowohlt Berlin in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review. At the time of this review, this title was only available in the German language.


Sabrina Janesch ©Frank Zauritz




Sabrina Janesch, born in Gifhorn, Germany, in 1985, studied cultural journalism at the University of Hildesheim and Polonia at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. In 2010 her novel «Katzenberge», 2012 «Ambra» and 2014 «Tango for a dog» appeared. Sabrina Janesch received several awards for her writing: she received the Mara-Cassens-Prize, the Nicolas-Born-Promotion-Award, the Anna-Seghers- Prize, and was a scholarship holder at Ledig-House, New York, and a city writer from Gdansk. Sabrina Janesch lives with her family in Münster, Germany.

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Vi@Inkvotary

I am Vi, forty-something, avid reader, blogger and painter who loves to talk and write about books. A day without one in my hands is a wasted one. Skilled florist with a degree in writing - oh yes, that works.

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