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The History of History

Ida Hattemer-Higgins

The History of History: A Novel of Berlin by Ida Hattemer-Higgins is a ferociously smart and electrifyingly original debut novel.

Date Published
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2002. A young American woman stumbles one morning from the forest outside Berlin – hands dirty, clothes torn. She can remember nothing of the night. She returns to the life she once knew, but soon an enigmatic letter arrives from an unknown doctor claiming to be ‘concerned for her fate’. Shortly after, the city of Berlin transforms. Nazi ghosts manifest as preening falcons; buildings turn to flesh.

This is the story of Margaret’s descent into madness and her race to recover her lost history – the night in the forest and the chasm that opened in her life as a result. Awash with guilt, Margaret finds her amnesia resonating – more and more clamorously – with two suppressed tragedies of Berlin’s darkest hour.

Harrowing and provocative, beguiling in its lyricism and sensuality, The History of History tells a tale of obsessive love, family ruptures, and a nation’s grief. And it is an elegy to ‘the history of history’ – the role of the German past in the psychic life of the present age. With this first novel, third-year-old Ida Hattemer-Higgins establishes herself as as bold, inventive and gifted writer.


Ida Hattemer-Higgins was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. She left the USA in 2001, living first in Tokyo, then in Bombay, later in Stockholm, and for the past seven years as a student of literature in Berlin, Germany, where she has also worked as a walking-tour guide and translator. She now divides her time between…

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