Miku Sophie Kumail tells about three sisters. Of course one immediately thinks of Chekhov, especially since the novel begins in the provinces – albeit in Germany – and leads to the capital. Chekhov’s phrase “to Moscow” ironically appears once in the book, a sign of recognition. But it’s not about three women who want to escape social paralysis and can’t do it, it’s about the sisters who have lost their mother. “Triskele” tells the story of Mercedes, born in 1972, Mira, born in 1988, and Mattia, born in 2004. Between them there are 16 years – almost a generation. The mother was 17 when Mercedes was born, and Mattia was 16 when her mother died.
Together they initially find themselves reorganizing the daily life of their youngest, who must allocate him a house from which she can go to school and soon begin her own life. They also gather in mourning for their mother. This is disingenuous because this was an announced death. “You made it,” he said at one point, picking up the aphorism about fleeing the GDR, moving on to the “afterlife.” Mooney, as she is usually called (actually Simon), has rarely killed herself as a mother.
The author is not concerned with unnatural death, but rather with the trio left behind. By putting the inheritance certificate in front of her, Komel doesn’t have to cumbersomely explain her age. Although the three share a common mother, they were born in the same place, Arendsee in Saxony-Anhalt, but with the exception of Mattia, they have long since left the place. The two older sisters live in Berlin, did not want to have children, and now they have to try a family model of three children.
Miku Sophie Kühmel debuted in 2019 with the novel “Kintsugi” and was nominated for a German Book Award. In it, it also created a form of living together incompatible with traditional family structures; Three men take care of their daughter. The principle of writing the new novel is similar: with the group of characters of the sisters, Kumail creates a kind of magic triangle. To balance this out, she simply refrains from explaining absent parents. In the middle, an old cat alone is allowed to roam, memories of former partners appear. Only one man disturbs the sisters’ circumstances for a brief period. In our age of fake news, he has an interesting business model: His company creates excuses for carefree cheating and other social tweaks.
Corona is one of them
The novel begins in June 2020, at the end of February the mother died. And so the book becomes a magazine, so to speak, because the Corona pandemic brings with it restrictions on those left behind that the mother could not have imagined. The author absorbs Covid attributes such as masks, work at home on a Mercedes laptop, the empty yoga studio in which Mira studies in front of the camera, and the manipulation of Mattia’s analog and digital school clocks as naturally as weather or traffic conditions. It also shows the completely different living conditions of the three sisters: in an uncertain world of work, in a deliberately chosen professional freedom and as a student.
Gradually, the novel answers the question of what constituted a woman: mother, origin, sexual orientation, social conditions. Even if only the eldest daughter is acquainted with the GDR, the East plays a major role for all three, sometimes in a kind of defiant pride, especially in remembrance of the mother – a single but not self-confident parent. Miko Sophie Kumail was born in Gotha in 1992 as the youngest of her three sisters, the publicist explains. It tells an important story about what people carry with them.
The other big problem – mom’s depression – lingers in the background but it’s still there. Especially Mercedes, the eldest, who remembered the signs but wasn’t able to help. “Of course I knew very early on that white anger and all the mistrust wouldn’t make me any more. That Mone did not choose these nations. It was not her intention to let me down like this and her second child and her mother.” No consolation here.
It says Mercedes, Mira and Mattia
The novel is broken down into months, following its characters for a year; A year of mourning, so to speak, although it is clear that they will continue to miss their mother. Kühmel does not cling to the process and always has several months left. What happened between them is briefly mentioned or not important anyway. She shifts perspectives, and gives her book three first-person narrators, who define the dynamics through their perspectives, choosing aspects. Their chapters are built like interior monologues, punctuated by contemporary scenes in which they speak and act. In transitions from the narrator’s head to the action, the flow of narrative unfortunately sometimes gets dangerously high.
Interestingly, Kühmel also allows the youngest of them, Matea, to move on a virtual parallel plane, the “world of threads”. This is a mixture of computer games and fan fiction that she settled in while living alongside her mother. Mattia writes, controls the characters and interacts with others somewhere. Here, too, the transition to real action is difficult, but convincing as an image of the change between social media and real friendships.
The title word “Triskele” refers to a piece of jewelry that a mother wore to make her daughters feel with her. It is an ancient symbol of three interconnected circular arcs that look like infinite spirals. “The end is always very important to people, and this fits the code,” Kumail writes to Mattia, “a good ending or a bad ending, but really there are no endings, basically there’s just this constant circuit, carbon chains and waves of energy, and there’s that moment that Take your hands off the keyboard and put your pen down. “The death of their mother is the end of something for the sisters, but it is also the beginning. They are more closely related to each other than before.
Miko Sophie Kumail: Triskill. S Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2022. 269 pages, €23
Book premiere August 29, 8 p.m., Zenner, Alt-Treptow 15