Bernd Cailloux

The American Son - Novel

(German title: Der amerikanische Sohn)
ca. 224 pages
Bernd Cailloux
Foto: Bernd Cailloux
© Isolde Ohlbaum

Bernd Cailloux, born 1945, is the author of novels, short stories, essays, and radio plays. His novel Das Geschäftsjahr 1968/69 (The Fiscal Year 1968/69), in many ways a precursor to Allowed Losses, received outstanding reviews in the media. The author lives in Berlin.

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The revolution is looking for its children


How about you? Do you have children? – Yes, a son, in America. Silence ensues. The question, innocently asked on the periphery of a panel discussion, touches upon a trauma. The protagonist learned of his fatherhood thirty years ago, coincidentally, on a dancefloor.

The boy named Eno grew up in Jamaica and later in the USA. There was no contact. The mother, originally from Hamburg, went her own way. Therefore, the son’s existence was never really of much concern to the father, who, as an activist and hippie businessman, wasn’t very interested in family matters. But in 2014, a foundation invites him to New York, giving him an opportunity to come to terms with the suppressed events. The more he delves into the city, following the traces of the 1970s underground to the portents of Donald Trump’s presidency in familiar and unfamiliar places, the more urgency the question of the close yet distant, already grown-up child gains.

With self-irony and warm conciseness, Bernd Cailloux sets out on the search for the lost son, on a journey to the USA and into his own past and the strange present – as a flâneur on foot in New York, hesitantly on the internet and ultimately on a plane headed to Menlo Park, to the Western end of the Western world. The conclusion of the autobiographical trilogy Bernd Cailloux began in 2005 with The Business Year of 1968/69 and continued in 2012 with Allowed Losses. Both novels were nominated for the German Book Prize.

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