A cabinet of horrors: The new Fitzek novel is a satire on parents’ evenings

A cabinet of horrors: The new Fitzek novel is a satire on parents’ evenings
Sebastian Fitzek
Image: Marcus Höhn

“Not a thriller” – is noted right on the cover, followed by the addition: “Even if the title sounds like horror”. Which long-suffering parents of school-age children do they not fear: annoying parents’ evenings where you “sit for hours in a musty classroom, on chairs that are far too small. Time trickles on at Tai Chi speed and you desperately try to make yourself invisible, while the faculty is looking with eagle eyes for volunteers for the election of the parent representatives”.

Sascha Nebel, Sebastian Fitzek’s anti-hero in his new novel “Parents’ Evening”, probably speaks to the heart of many fathers and mothers. Fitzek himself, as the father of four children, can also look back on relevant experience. At the same time, such parents’ evenings are also wonderful inspirations for a writer. The result is now available: a novel that can be read as satire and shrill exaggeration, but with a thoroughly serious background. But that only gradually becomes clear.

Even the beginning is a bit ludicrous. After a stroke of fate, Sascha Nebel’s life got out of step. As a petty criminal, he struggles to stay afloat. One day, while trying to break into an SUV, he clashes with climate activist Wilma, who hits the hated car with a baseball bat. When the police show up, the mismatched couple flees in a tour bus.

The other travelers turn out to be parents of a school class on their way to the parents’ evening, which is planned as a relaxing weekend in the countryside. Sascha and Wilma are mistaken for a very specific pair of parents, Mr. and Mrs. Schmolke. The two refugees, who hardly know each other, unexpectedly have to slip into the role of a complete stranger, who is not exactly well liked by the other parents. On the one hand, the Schmolkes have never been seen at parents’ evenings, on the other hand, their son Hector is apparently the problem bear in the class.

Despite his young age, he already has a lot on his plate, so he apparently beat up a classmate. The attempt not to be caught and to do some justice to the imposed role leads to all sorts of funny, crazy, but also embarrassing situations. Gradually, Sascha and Wilma not only get to know each other, but also the other parents. The parents’ evening reveals itself as a small chamber of horrors of nuisances and self-promoters.

With “Parents’ Evening”, the author wants to convey difficult social issues such as violence, the dangers of social media, etc. in a light-hearted way. However, this honorable concern is somewhat pushed into the background by his great love of storytelling, his joy in weird images, wild slapstick and hopeless entanglements that sometimes leave you breathless. (dpa/Sibylle Peine)

Source: Nachrichten

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