The main character in Monique Schwitter’s novel undertakes a love quest.
It’s evening. The two children are in bed, and in the next room her husband Philipp is going through the week’s e-mails. The narrator is sitting at her desk – and suddenly feels compelled to look for Peter on the internet: Peter, the name of her first boyfriend. What had become of him? In One Another, the protagonist investigates her life. Having worked as a dramatist and theatre actress, she now attempts to lay bare her own life story; in the process, twelve male characters appear, men she’s met over that lifetime. Some of them are still linked to her, and all are still around. They have names, which distantly recall those of the twelve Apostles. This is still, though, a novel about the real world, and by the end, past and present become almost indistinguishable. »Love comes and love goes. One merges into the other, one love inside the other.«
Monique Schwitter describes this complex tangle of love in a way that is pacy, exciting and entertaining. This is an unconventional romance novel, which does not focus on sex scenes or vulgarities but still shows its protagonists from up close. The relationships portrayed here are wild and intense, short and long but never predictable.
The narrator’s husband, previously skulking in the background of the framework narrative, working late shifts and consulting his telephone obsessively as husbands do, butts in rather rudely before his turn to be described in the chronology of men. He’s been doing something rather bad, which comes as rather a surprise and upsets family life.
And from then on this ostensibly orderly list of love stories becomes a glorious mess, jumbled and chaotic and taking in other kinds of love – friendship, a kind of asexual cohabitation, an unsuitable infatuation, an affair strangely sanctioned by the man’s wife, a fantasy – and our picture of the perfect mother is skewed. Things she’d left out of her official life story start coming out of the woodwork, jolted back to mind by events, making the narrator look less and less saintly. Monique Schwitter’s poignantly poetic treatment of love, desire and grief is admirable for its immediacy and authenticity.
German Paperback (S. Fischer)
Russian (Text Publishers)
Croatian (Ocean More)
SWISS BOOK PRIZE 2015
SWISS LITERATURE PRIZE 2016
Shortlist DEUTSCHER BUCHPREIS 2015
»The German language has rarely seen a recount of love as relaxed and artful, as entertaining and intelligent, as precise and, above all, unsentimental.« (Alexander Cammann, Die Zeit)
»An amorous bildungsroman (…) A book cleverly combining strong stimuli, convincing a load of critics and a large audience alike.« (Wolfgang Höbel, Der Spiegel)
»Razor-sharp affection – in Monique Schwitter’s latest novel, the heroine googles herself through her past relationships (…). A superb novel!« (Paul Jandl, Literarische Welt)
»As for the art of arrangement, this novel is one of a kind (…). One Another effortlessly joins the canon of love literature, turning this canon upside down and allowing for new ways to read it.« (Philipp Theisohn, NZZ)
»One Another presents itself as easy-going and entertaining, but proves impressive depth. A contemporary love story in the best sense.« (Zita Bereuter, fm4)