Translated from German by Jamie Lee Searle (2020)

It’s December. Winter. Time for cold, snowy books. So here we are with Manfred trudging through the snowy Black Forest towards his childhood home. He’s going home for Christmas, through no one is expecting him. His brother and he have been estranged for decades.

As Manfred approaches his memories emerge, of his parents, his younger brother, Sebastian, and his love, Minna. And the cause of the estrangement, the farm which he as the older brother should have inherited. But his parents decided otherwise, sparking a brotherly feud. And some downright spiteful behaviour which could only result in Manfred’s leaving and his need for redemption.

Back in town, lodging at the inn, while everyone else is in a festive mood, (events begin on 21.12) Manfred wonders how to approach his now reclusive brother. He wanders through the familiar landscape with his ghosts and tales of local folklore and legend. Together with a slight seasoning of biblical allusion which makes for an atmospheric, if melancholic, tale.

A short one at 84 pages too. Perfect for reading in one sitting as the first snowfall of 2020 lay on the ground, which is exactly what I did. And you know what? It was perfect.

The UK launch of Twelve Nights was celebrated at part of the recent online Swiss Book Fair. This session with readings from Urs Faes (in German) and Jamie Lee Searle (in English) gave a good feel of the book and an insight into how the book came to be translated. I also caught a glimpse of the German edition – it looked like an illustrated edition to me. A little sleuthing, a click and a copy has made its way to Scotland. The predominantly black and white illustrations by Nanne Meyer are misty, nostalgic, and suffused with loneliness, loss and regret. they complement the text wonderfully,

I look forward to (re-)reading the German edition when the next snowfall arrives.

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