Life is Elsewhere – “Swallow Summer” by Larissa Boehning


“One swallow does not a summer make” goes the popular proverb which would have been a fitting epitaph for Larissa Boehning’s debut short story collection Swallow Summer. The appearance of swallows symbolises positive energy brought on by the beginning of the warmer season, but also represents the fleetingness of happiness when the birds congregate again to migrate to sub-Saharan Africa, marking the end of the European summer. They are a perfect metaphor for the outlook on life of most of Boehning’s characters: thirty-somethings stuck between, as the author puts it, “hope and resignation”.

Boehning’s book, originally published in 2003, follows the ground-breaking short story collection Summerhouse, Later by fellow Berlin resident Judith Hermann, the German edition of which came out in 1998. At the time, Hermann’s stories were a breath of fresh air, injecting a much-needed contemporariness into a literary scene perennially preoccupied with Germany’s past. Boehning mines pretty much the same ground as Hermann but unfortunately with a much lower yield than her predecessor.  Continue reading “Life is Elsewhere – “Swallow Summer” by Larissa Boehning”