Winner of the 2007 German Book Prize for the year's best novel, Die Mittagsfrau
was first published in English as The Blind Side of the Heart
(2009) and then reprinted as The Blindness of the Heart
--a reference to the ways in which characters come to avoid those they love after repeated hardship, and, more broadly, to the ways in which the state can persuade society to "see" only what has been sanctioned. Julia Franck's novel chronicles key moments in the life of Helene Würslich, a fictional Jewish-German young woman whose transition from late childhood to early adulthood is characterized by serial abandonment. Her mother's mental illness, her father's enabling indulgence, her elder sister's increasing drug dependence, her fiancé's abrupt death, and her later husband's zealotry for the rising Nazi regime are presented as precursors to her own emotional...
Beyond the Book
Bautzen, located in the Upper Lusatia region, along the Spree River in Saxony, dates back to the Stone Age, though it was not mentioned in writing (as "Budusin") until the eleventh century. The city acquired its present name in 1868.
Its history has been marked by several widely documented events, including the pogroms on Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") from November 9-10, 1938, so named for the orchestrated destruction of numerous synagogues, homes, and Jewish businesses by Nazi stormtroopers.
It is also the site of Bautzen I and Bautzen II, prisons that acquired notoriety as the "Yellow Misery" and the...