Written by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Translated by Imogen Taylor
"I had always believed my father capable of a massacre. Whenever I heard on the news that there had been a killing spree, I would hold my breath, unable to relax until it was clear that it couldn’t have been him."
Randolph Tiefenthaler insists he had a normal childhood, though he grew up with a father who kept thirty loaded guns in the house. A modestly successful architect with an attractive, intelligent wife, Rebecca, and two children, Randolph finds his life turned upside down when his father, a man he loves yet has always feared, is imprisoned for murder.
Fear is the story of the twisted events leading up to his father’s incarceration. It begins when Randolph and his family move into a new building and meet their neighbor, Dieter Tiberius, the peculiar yet seemingly friendly man living in the basement apartment. As the Tiefenthalers settle into their home, they become increasingly disturbed as Dieter’s strange behaviour turns malevolent. Randolph unravels the tale of Dieter’s harassment — the erotic letters he sends to Rebecca, his spying, his accusations of child abuse, and the police reports he files against the Tiefenthalers. Finally, Randolph confesses his own feelings of desperation and helplessness, which ultimately lead to his father’s intervention.
As Randolph plumbs the depths of his own uncertainty surrounding the murder — pondering fundamental questions about masculinity, violence, and the rule of law — his reliability is slowly but irrevocably called into doubt. The result is an unsettling meditation on middle-class privilege and "civilized life" that builds to a shocking conclusion.
DIRK KURBJUWEIT is deputy editor-in-chief at Der Spiegel, where he has worked since 1999. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize for journalism, and is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels, many of which, including Fear, have been adapted for film, television, and radio in Germany. Fear is the first of his works to be translated into English. He divides his time between Berlin and Hamburg.
IMOGEN TAYLOR is a Berlin-based literary translator. She recently translated Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango.
"Fear shifts our moral codes. It makes us sympathetic to violent revenge, accessories to murder. Do we want the victim to survive? No, we don’t. Long after I had put this book down I still didn’t. A great achievement." Herman Koch, author of The Dinner
"Fear is a smart, psychologically complex and morally acute fable of modern German society decked out in the garb of an intricate thriller. . . . This is a wry, complex, at times disturbing survey of middle-class German life in the decades since the end of World War II." Sydney Morning Herald