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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: August 2014

19 - Finding Identity through Traveling the New World: Angela Krauß's Die Überfliegerin (1995) and Milliarden neuer Sterne (1999)

Summary

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the unification of Germany in 1990 allowed East Germans to finally travel freely to western countries. This new freedom to travel to the West not only impacted the worldview of many former GDR citizens, but also found its way into the writings of East German authors throughout the 1990s and into the present. In her study on contemporary German literature around the turn of the twenty-first century, the literary critic Christine Cosentino examines several tendencies by which contemporary German authors deal with America in their texts. One tendency she describes is “die Reise in die USA als Topos für die Suche nach Identität, die den politischen Hintergrund weitgehend ausspart” (the journey to the USA as a symbol for the search for identity, which largely leaves out the political background). This tendency—finding one's identity by traveling to America—is noticeable in literature by East German authors from the 1990s, one of whom is Angela Krauß. In many of her works, particularly in her novels Die Überfliegerin (1995) and Milliarden neuer Sterne (1999), travel to America is a catalyst for the narrator experiencing her own identity in relation to past experiences, specifically her life in East German society. The exploration of the new world manifests itself in these texts as a discovery of the narrator's inner self.