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Kathrin Stockett: Gute Geister (The help)


Yesterday, I finished the novel "The help", written by Kathryn Stockett (first published 2009). It was easy to read the German translation, and I was immediately able to explain to myself the diverse forms of speech after reading the first 50 pages and comparing it with some pages of the English original. You are led through the story by the daughter of a respectable white family in the time between 1963 and 1968 in Jackson, South states. One day, she decides to interview secretly 13 maids and to publish the edited results.

The present foreground story acts in the 60s in Jackson, Mississippi, and is the platform for the interviews.  For example, there is Aibileen, a black woman who works as a housekeeper. She has raised more than seventeen white babies. This well-educated woman writes her memories without bitterness and in the effort to be fair to her diverse white boss-ladies. Or there is Constantine, the maid in the house of the narrator, "Miss Skeeper," who gave her daughter (a white black baby) in an orphan house ...  What really touched me, was the mother's desperate longing for her daughter and the long-lasting feeling of the daughter to be alien among whites AND blacks. So she was never home somewhere. Other maids speak a very simple language that was certainly not easily to translate, I guess.

All in all, a very exciting and touching story which was enlightening the unthinkable forms of racism still in the sixties. The best is the pretty differentiated presentation of “authentic” experiences (of course it is a fiction) during a time in which Martin Luther King fought his fights against racism and for civil rights for everyone. I am going to read it in English now.

Apr 11, 2017 4:40 PM