The Bastard Factory
Chris Kraus’ The Bastard Factory tells the story of an entire epoch: a drama of betrayal and self-delusion spanning the years 1905 to 1975, taking us from Riga to Moscow, Berlin and Munich all the way to Tel Aviv.
Hubert and Konstantin Solm are brothers, born in Riga at the beginning of the twentieth century. They will find themselves – along with their Jewish adopted sister, Ev Solm – caught up in in the maelstrom of their changing times.
As the two brothers climb the rungs of society – working first for the government in Nazi Germany, then as agents for the Allied Forces, and eventually becoming spies for the young West Germany – Ev will be their constant companion, and eventually a lover to them both. The passionate love triangle that emerges will propel the characters to terrifying moral and political depths.
The story of the Solms is also the story of twentieth-century Germany: the decline of an old world and the rise of a new one – under new auspices but with the same familiar protagonists.
Translated from the German by Ruth Martin