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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Seiffert: Important debut
Rachel Seiffert
Seiffert was born in Oxford in 1971
Rachel Seiffert has a German mother and though she now lives in Berlin, she writes in English.

The Dark Room is her first novel, which is really a set of linked novellas dealing with German war guilt.

The book tells the stories of three ordinary 20th Century Germans: Helmut is the tale of a disturbed adolescent who works as a photographer's assistant in 1920s Germany.

The Dark Room
The Dark Room: Praised for simplicity and depth
He goes on to chronicle the rise of the Nazis and their stronghold over Germany.

Next comes the story of young Lore who is leading her siblings on a search for their grandmother as their parents have been imprisoned, charged as Nazi war criminals.

Finally, there is the story of a young man in present day Germany, Micha, who sets out to break the family silence surrounding his grandfather's service as a Nazi SS officer.

Painful memories

The three stories are not connected, but are related by themes of family, responsibility, denial and love.

The Dark Room refers to the photographic images that suffuse the book, but is also a reference to the place where painful memories are kept beyond recall.

Still only 30 years old, Seiffert has worked in the film industry, as an assistant editor, director and with an organisation which funds and supports new filmmakers.

Though she was brought up in England and writes in English she has said that she feels close to both cultures.

Holidays and festivals in her home were celebrated German-style and she visited family in Germany frequently.

Her mother was active in the peace movement and was very open with her children about the holocaust and the Third Reich.

She has also said that she endured taunts about being German as a child, all of which contributed to her writing The Dark Room.

The Dark Room has been highly acclaimed for its simplicity and style.

She has also been praised for her "courageous" attempt to address contemporary German problems through the prism of the past.

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