Reviews of Michael Braun's novel, "Jericho oder Das feine Gesicht des Himmels"

  • "'Life is all about friends lost along the way.' - This resume emerges at the end of Michael Braun's novel. It reflects the ambiguous mood that it instills in the reader: melancholy, a blend of mourning and joie de vivre. ... With uncomplicated yet never unsophisticated language the narrator devotes himself to his characters - the eccentric artist Ida, the nerdy steam-engine enthusiast Jenny, the ever-lip-smacking Edward and the unhappy love theorist Emily. ... Braun's novel is written with a lightness that infects the reader, frequently provokes a giggle, and arouses thirst for the subsequent chapter at the end of each passage. ... At the same time, the characters' ironic refractions conceal the foreboding of the tragic ending. This consistent ambiguity makes this novel valuable - a book that ought to be assigned a privileged location on the shelves." -- Grauzone

  • "A book that one welcomes joyfully after the publication of Javier Marias' first-class novel All Souls. ... The cardinal insight: growing up means coping with losses. Alfred's death and Ben thereafter - these passages move the reader immediately, manifest the book's greatest depth. A college novel between the jovial insanity of Matt Ruff's Fool on the Hill, the pastoral security of Jane Smiley's Moo and Javier Marias' melancholies." -- Welt am Sonntag

  • "It is to be lauded unequivocally that this novel depicts homosexuality without whining, but as nothing extraordinary." -- Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Thomas Mann would not be able to believe that something like this comes out of his publishing house." -- Stadtblatt Osnabrueck

  • "... cheerful, melancholic, sensitive, and truly funny." -- Hamburger Abendblatt

  • "Gay literature in this country has many beautiful voices, but one voice has always been amiss in the German market: a romancier in the style of, for example, Alan Hollinghurst or Stephen McCauley. ... Michael Braun fills this void brilliantly: (he provides) reading material with literary ambition that guarantees that you will not put it down. ... This surprising debut is very British in its wit, psychologically precise, and very hip. ... It has the rare quality of blending high literary standards with utmost entertainment, and - yes, although surprising for such a young author - wisdom." -- Maenner

  • "Braun possesses a sense for witty situations; descriptions of rooms - and interiors in general - are his forte; he successfully creates several vivid supporting characters, in particular Benjamin's friend Ida, a well-to-do artist; all love scenes are depicted with pleasant decency; the author wisely develops numerous portents leading to the sombre end of Alfred, and of (his) relationship (with Ben); the catastrophe itself is touching." -- Frankfurter Rundschau

  • "In masterly fashion the reader is confronted with student routine at Oxford, with essay crises and exams. ... Jericho's special standing does not reside in the description of a homosexual relationship, but rather in the manner in which this is done. The depiction of the affair between Ben and Alfred is sympathetic without dwelling on tedious self-reflections, and at the same time spiked with a British sense of humor." -- Stormarner Tageblatt

  • "Michael Braun depicts the transformation of his leading character into a different, more mature individual with great psychological insight. Finely tuned language and cheerful wisdom reflect on the main theme: the end of youth." -- Handelsblatt

  • "Neither biblical trumpets nor the bells of Magdalen College Tower ... manage to breathe life into this 'novel' that - from beginning to end - reads like the inadvertently comical notes of an ambitious student. The college adventures and relationship troubles ... dissipate a private charm and lovely artlessness that may - detached from any literary ambition whatsoever - entice attention and encouragement among Braun's friends. Beyond that, they do not possess the strength to bind the reader to this novel, which is no novel. ... Even to read (the) book with pleasure as an autobiographically motivated life report is impossible, as the stunning absence of any literary structure deters the reader. ... Michael Braun may be a multi-faceted person, but he does not qualify as a novelist." -- Tagesspiegel

  • "In concentrating on the rather lively events during Benjamin's final year at Oxford all characters ... develop psychological dimensions that are well worth pursuing. ... Alfred, a black student from the Bahamas, is the real star of the novel, the individual with the most interesting facets. ... With this character - and with his talent in bringing out Oxford life to its fullest - Michael Braun reveals that one may await his further development as a novelist feverishly." -- Darmstaedter Echo

  • "I devoured (Jericho) until the end. ... Michael Braun's novel ... is not a book that one reads, likes somewhat, and puts aside. It engages you, and for a long time at that." -- NSP

  • "(This) novel impresses with its sparkling narrative lightness. ... In those passages where Alfred and Ben are alone with each other, delicate tones prevail and Michael Braun develops touching poetry." -- Deutsche Welle

  • "The author's composition ... is geared toward tender tones tainted by cheerfulness. The drawing of the characters - including the female ones - is terse, and although the individuals bridge three generations they form a harmonious unity." -- Oesterreichisches Bibliothekswerk

  • "One should reserve time for reading this book, because it deserves it. It is a very good read, not to say that I devoured it." -- Rosige Zeiten

  • "This book is of the sort that you have to finish because otherwise the suspense would not allow you to rest. ... The humor in which the whole thing is worked out, the lightness and depth as well as the miraculous talent of the author to use language in a way that young German authors of gay literature only rarely achieve make this book a worthwhile read." -- homo sum

  • "In many ways a happy surprise: full of suspense, intelligent, unobtrusively humorous and a lust to read. ... Braun's novel flows smoothly, again and again with sudden endings and subtle turns. It creates creeping suspense ... that guarantees the reader unlimited, lively entertainment." -- hinnerk

  • "Michael Braun ... not only studied at three foreign universities but also, hear hear, worked as a bar pianist and as a grapefruit picker on a kibbutz. ... It is to be feared that the author digested his own experience (in Jericho), and that a novella about his activities as grapefruit picker has not yet arrived." -- Am Erker

  • "Amusing." -- Oxford Today