The Game of Cards (Das Kartenspiel) by Adolf Schröder is a tightly wound suspense-novel about surviving the dangerous game of life, by one of German literature’s best-kept secrets.
The young student Markus Hauser accepts a job with Selma Bruhns, an elderly Jewish lady who was able to escape the Nazis and the Holocaust only at a terrible cost. When Markus arrives at her decaying, darkened house infested by numerous cats, what unfolds is a story of risky gambles, desperate decisions, and unbearable regret
The task that Selma gives Markus is almost sisyphean: he has to arrange thousands of letters in chronological order, so that they can be burnt in that same order. The content of these epistles tells the story of a young woman who emigrated to Brasil in 1939: she was one of two sisters, both in terrible danger, but only one of whom could obtain the single available passport out of the country … Now Selma is preparing for her death, and Markus has to help her. For six days he works conscientiously, all the while penetrating little by little into the past of this woman, who surrounds herself with her cats and her memories. On his last day, Selma proposes a bargain: a game of cards that will change his life forever.
Written in the style of a detective novel, The Game of Cards (Das Kartenspiel) pieces together the puzzle of life fractured by war, and plunges the reader, along with the characters, into a strange and troubling world.
Adolf Schröder (1938-2008) was born in Bremen. He wrote books for both children and adults, and was a playwright and as well as a scriptwriter, among other things for the hugely successful and long-running German television detective series Der Alte (The Old Man). Adolf Schröder wrote only one other novel, Der Fremde Junge (The Strange Boy). In 1963, he won the inaugural Kurt Magnus Prize for radio journalism, and in 1990 he was awarded the Hamburg Literary Prize. He lived in Hamburg, where he also worked as a taxi driver, until his death in 2008.