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What are you reading, Ms. Bartolomaeus?

Theda Bartolomaeus is a PhD student in Sofia Forslund's group. The aim of the group is to create data-based models that show how the human host and microbiome co-evolve towards health or disease under different conditions.

Theda Bartolomaeus.

Raphaela Edelbauer: The Liquid Land

Following their accidental death, the will of the parents of physicist Ruth instructs that they are to be buried in the town where they grew up, Gross-Einland. Without having an idea of where she might find it, Ruth sets off in her car. As Ruth searches for Gross-Einland, you slowly sense that she is transitioning into another, surreal world.

It seems as though Gross-Einland is stuck in a time capsule. A city wall surrounds the cluster of Medieval-looking, half-timbered buildings and a church tower rises in the centre. But the idyllic scene is deceptive: The tower is slanted, squares are sinking and holes are appearing. There is a vast cavern beneath the town where the inhabitants of Gross-Einland dispose of all kinds of things. The town is on the verge of collapse, yet its inhabitants act as though everything is normal.

The narrative is a bizarre blend of specific descriptions of small-town reality and fanciful circumstances. Ruth perceives this surreal reality in a somnambulistic state. While reading, you get the feeling that the protagonist is being pushed from one situation to another, and she is only able to focus on one thing by exerting a great deal of effort.

During the reading, the feeling grows that the protagonist is passively pushed from one situation to another, and only through great effort does the focus become possible. In the end, it is also about coming to terms with National Socialism in Austria.

To me, "The Liquid Land reads as a dystopia set in the present day. I highly recommend this book. “Our world is nothing more than the present. And while the mind clings to the time capsule, everything stands still.”