The Wall – Marlen Haushofer

Translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside, narrated by Kathe Mazur

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“I can allow myself to write the truth; all the people for whom I have lied throughout my life are dead….”

The biggest differences between The Wall and other solo survival stories are that the main character is a woman, and she is an ordinary woman, not an explorer or a scientist with any survival skills that will help her during the ordeal of finding herself alive, alone, cut off from the rest of the world.

Haushofer’s (unnamed) survivor is staying at a friends hunting lodge in rural Austria when she discover her companions haven’t returned from a night out. She finds that between the lodge and the village where her friends went the last evening an invisible wall has manifested. Every being she can see on the outside of the wall is immobile. There’s no suggestion of any recognisable disaster, but there’s also no evidence that anything remaining outside the wall is alive.

The friend at whose lodge our survivor has been holidaying was a prepper. He believed catastrophic disaster was likely and has stocked his hunting lodge accordingly. She has food – for a little while at least. But without survival knowledge her story boils down to a lot of very hard physical labour and some occasional good luck.

The wall remains largely unexplained. It is invisible, so she is able to observe the lack of goings on outside. Weather passes across it, and she endures powerful storms. Water from a creek passes through the wall but she herself is unable to breach it.

It is a simple, classic storyline but Haushofer’s is an all class example. It’s excellent storytelling, brilliant pacing, and utterly compelling. It was a difficult one to press pause on – I just wanted to read further.

The translation is solid throughout. In spite of the book being originally published in 1963 Whiteside only translated it from German into English in 1990. He couldn’t have chosen a better book.

Kathe Mazur’s audio performance is spot on throughout. All around this is an excellent audiobook and I’m grateful to Blackstone Audio for producing such a high quality edition. It’s definitely one for your audio “bookshelf”.

When I finished the book I bought my husband a print copy, which he got through in a day. It’s that sort of book – one you want to share with all of your reader friends, regardless of format. It’s a very entertaining, enjoyable read.

The Wall • by Marlen Haushofer (translated by Shaun Whiteside) • read by Kathe Mazur • 9 hours 15 minutes • published by Blackstone Audio • June 01, 2013

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