It All Tastes of Farewell is a frank account of one woman’s life and loves in 1960s East Germany. As a writer, Brigitte Reimann could not help but tell a compelling story, and that is born out here in her diaries, which are gripping as any novel. She recorded only what mattered: telling details, emotional truths, and political realities. Never written for publication and first published in full in German only after the fall of the Berlin Wall, these diaries offer a unique record of what it felt like to live in a country that no longer exists, was represented for years largely through Cold War propaganda, and is still portrayed in fairy-tale Stasi dramas. Here we get a sense of lived experience, as if Doris Lessing or Edna O’Brien had been allowed in with their notebooks.
This volume continues where her earlier book of diaries, I Have No Regrets, left off, in 1964. It sees Reimann grow wistful and at times bitter, as her love life, her professional life, and her health all suffer. Yet throughout she retains a lively appetite for new experiences and a dedication to writing. Finally she finds security in a surprising new love, and although she died soon after this volume ends, the novel she was writing was to become a much-read cult hit after her death.
A remarkable document from a time and place that we still struggle to see clearly, It All Tastes of Farewell is unforgettable, a last gift from an essential writer.