Page 79. " A lubricated voice from my local pub, coming down the line... 'Feel like another drinking session?' "

An extract from an interview with the author:

       "There are quite a lot of drinking scenes and hungover moments in the book," Funder admits, "and they are there not to parade my alcoholism, but because that's a way of presenting the toxic effect of having to listen to stories of enormous pain, and interviewing lots of creepy men.

Page 80. " Klaus Renft is the legendary 'Mik Jegger' of the Eastern Bloc. "
Klaus Renft in 2003
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKlaus Renft in 2003 - Credit: Thomas Kraft

The song that drifts down the phone line to Anna as she eases back into sleep is Hilflos, a German cover of the Neil Young classic, Helpless.  

The Klaus Renft Combo was a rock band, formed in Leipzig in 1958. They were tolerated by the East German state until 1975, when they were officially banned. They reunited in 1990.

Founding member (and drinking partner of Anna Funder) Klaus Renft once explained the rebelliousness, and importance, of what he and the band stood for: “We really liked Jailhouse Rock and we wanted to experience that feeling of freedom that you could feel in the music. The drumbeats, all the drum riffs, really sent the mood right up to the ceiling. You know rock 'n' roll isn't a question of lyrics, it's a lifestyle, it's freedom, it's a protest against the powers-that-be.”

If you've never heard a German singing the blues, here's the Klaus Renft Combo's Caesar's Blues.

Anna Funder returns to drinking with Klaus, and hears more about his story on page 185.

Page 83. " It is Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' The Communist Manifesto. "

The Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, is a hugely influential piece of political writing by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It sets out the aims of the Communist League, who commissioned the work, in the following chapters:


I: Bourgeois and Proletarians

II: Proletarians and Communists

III: Socialist and Communist Literature

IV: Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties

Page 96. " Lately, a study has suggested that depressed people have a more accurate view of reality "

This concept, known as depressive realism, has been explored by Lauren B. Alloy and Lyn Abramson and some initial results are discussed in this 1987 article.


Page 100. " 'At that school every night without fail we were sat down and made to watch 'Aktuelle Kamera' in the long version. It was hell.' "

Aktuelle Kamera was the legendary news programme of the GDR, and a key propaganda tool.