Learning German (badly)

  • Read an Excerpt of the Book:

A non-fiction book to be published autumn 2019 by Claret Press


An ode to a potential union, a lament for a lost citizenship and a celebration of life, theatre director Tim Luscombe reports from the cosmopolitan bubble of Berlin in a comic diary that charms as it enlightens.

In order to win German citizenship, Tim elects to return to school to study German, but his twenty international classmates are not as focussed on study as he would wish. Karole from Botswana, Mervyn from Estonia and Jang-Mi from Korea become Tim’s new unlikely friends as they each grapple with mind-bending grammar, the art of integration and baffling immigration paperwork. As their flawed but valiant teacher attempts to coral her ship of fools towards an understanding of the dative, some prosper while others move on.

As well as reflecting the anarchy of German class, this comic diary records the writer’s despair watching the referendum and its aftermath from afar when back home the UK votes to leave the EU. Tim’s sense of himself as a European is threatened when a new England is born, heralded by Teresa May’s conference speech damning ‘citizens of nowhere’. As old England dies, so the writer’s father faces his own death in Teddington Hospital, forcing Tim’s priorities to shift. As a European political union is torn apart, a new personal union deepens when Tim falls in love with his newly adoptive country and marries his German boyfriend.

This comedy of manners is as much about the group dynamics of the classroom as it is about a union of countries. Its central interests are transience, identity, community and how not to learn German.

For a copy of the book from autumn 2019, please go online to Amazon etc, go to your local book shop and order a copy, or contact Claret Press.