Look At Me
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Look At Me

Mareike Krugel, Imogen Taylor

Katharina’s husband isn’t coming home for the weekend - again - so she’s on her own. When their chaotic daughter Helli has a nosebleed, Kat has to dash off to school to pick her up.

Then their son, Alex, announces he’s bringing his new girlfriend home for the first time. Kat’s best friend from college is coming around tonight too, and she’s wondering if she should try to seduce him - but first she needs to do the shopping, the vacuuming and the laundry, deal with an exploding clothes-dryer, find their neighbour’s severed thumb in the front yard and catch a couple of escaped rodents.

When she’s got all that sorted, perhaps she’ll have time to think about the thing she’s been trying not to think about - the lump she’s just found in her breast. Because you can’t just die and leave a huge mess for someone else to clean up…can you? And wasn’t there supposed to be more to life than this?


Look At Me is Mareike Krügel’s fourth novel, and her first to be translated into English. It opens with Katharina being called in to pick up her daughter, Helli, from school, after Helli suffers from one of her self-inflicted nosebleeds. When they return home, Katharina expects to get the house ready for the arrival of a friend she hasn’t seen in years, but things couldn’t go less according to plan.

From the very first sentence, we know we’re in for a quirky ride that masterfully blends a sardonic sense of humour with a deeply embedded fear of mortality. As we follow Katharina over the course of a single day in her life, we meet a range of characters whose emotional pull on her is strong enough to almost be physical. From her chaotic daughter, who is growing up in a technology driven world Kat feels completely disconnected from, to her teenage son who has just started dating, her neurotic sister, and the spectre of her distant husband, who lives and works in Berlin for five days of the week. Through all this, Katharina constantly asks herself how her family will be affected by the lump she has just found in her breast. After all, they all must continue to survive when she’s gone.

Krügel eventually settles into a more comfortable pace, which allows her to dissect these bizarre, edge-of-belief events and the impact they have on Katharina’s world. From searching for her neighbour’s severed thumb, to stopping her clothes dryer from exploding, it is in these otherworldly experiences that Krügel shines, as she manages to blend the whimsy of Jonas Jonasson with the sensitivity of Georgia Blain in some startlingly sober insights.

This easy read will keep you going late into the night, long after everyone else has gone to bed.

Tom Davies works as a bookseller at Readings Doncaster.

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