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"Das Weiszheithaus", Holger Siemann's grand-scale Berlin novel, was just published by Dörlemann. The house in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district is real, the Weiszheit family that built it and lived in it with families, tradesmen, policemen, spies and others a long century long are all the author's invention.

Holger Siemann Das Weiszheithaus

Built in what used to be the outskirts of Berlin, the house stands for the massive expansion of European cities at the end of the 19th century. Gustav Weiszheit, the young man who built it, had a heart for the weak such as unmarried mothers and other social outcasts. That soon made him rise in the ranks of the socialist party. Elise, Gustav's daughter, marries Ernst Lachner, a doctor who helps the wounded of the 1st World War with self-developed prosthetics. But when the winds are changing, Ernst, who wants to keep his practice and his status, sides with the Nazis. After the 2nd World War, Elise's son Kurt, the offspring of an affair with cousin Ludwig, grows up in the young GDR, tries to establish himself as a serious writer without betraying his ambitions to the Socialist Party dogma. Being gay forces him lead a second double life.

The story is told by Kurt's grandson Sven who inherits the house from his deceased great-grandmother Elise. He culls the stories from a massive, mad archive in the attic, amassed over decades by an unknown tenant, full of Kurt's books, letters, ledgers, diaries etc.

The people, though invented, are all real, the times they lived in are as authentic and present as our own.

Holger Siemann, born in Leipzig in 1962, studied philosophy at Humboldt University. He worked as an officer, actor, social worker and journalist. He is the author of numerous radio plays and two previous novels, "Arbeit und Streben" 2006) and "Karlas Versuch, die Welt zu verbessern" (2008) Holger Siemann lives in Berlin and in the rural Uckermark north of Berlin.

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