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“I never set foot in J’s bedroom . . . I presume that even J’s mother rarely set foot in there and only in genuine emergencies, perhaps because not even she was protected by the awe that he held for her. He wouldn’t let anything touch his mother, but that wouldn’t necessarily have stopped him from touching her breasts . . . Even though I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s house as a child, I can’t picture J’s room at all. I don’t know where the bed was, though there must have been one, and I don’t have a clue what else could have been in there. I simply can’t picture it. Venturing in there during the years of the stench would have been hell. I would have died of disgust . . . Today, it’s my study. I’ve always written novels in there, but until now it had never occurred to me to write about my mentally-impaired-at-birth uncle J. About him and his room. About the house and the street. And about my family. And our gravestones. And the Wetterau, which is the whole world . . . “ With brilliant irony, Andreas Maier describes his uncle J’s fraught detachment from the real world and the life of small-town Germany in the years after World War II. The Room is both a memoir and a novel, the first installment of an epic family saga, and a love-letter to an unknowable soul.

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