One of the most interesting things about the book is the form. It alternates between the numbered paragraphs of Berlin and others, the first one being about her family, the second one seems not to have much in common, nor do I see in all the discreet motif of a departing angel, the third one is about the author and her Zagreb friends. In the Berlin ones, the general reflections are probably written later, but the happenings are probably in chronological order, since in the first one she says that the only German she knows is “ich bin müde” (3, 9), and in the second Berlin one she is taking German lessons 3A(97), and in the third one she is trying to order food in German in an Italian restaurant (168), and in the fourth one there is no reference to her German skills. But the restaurant lessons usually come in the fifth or so lesson, but her stay in Berlin seems to be between 1991-1996 (238), so that may not be necessarily true. In fact there was a place that mentioned to Kobe earthquake (161), which is 1995, and I remember being surprised when I saw that because I thought the narrative hadn’t reached even the 1990′s, (which shows that I was at a loss of the time of the novel.) But my point is, someone who already knows at least three languages (Croatian, English and Russian) cannot be struggling in German to order food after five years of stay.
The Berlin ones are especially interesting in terms of the form because of the repetition. 45 and 124 is exactly the same except for a little bit of addition in the 124. 10 and 107 are almost the same but the wordings are different. Some questions like “Do you have some time?” and “Was ist Kunst?” are asked to different people. The language is again also interesting because first the author asks Richard in German (160), but it may be that she actually didn’t know the word and asked Richard to practice her German, and then she started asking her friends in German but they all answer in English. Then at last she asks Richard “What is art?” to Richard in English, it seems (169).
The form of The Kinder-egg chapter (55-91) reminded me of a section from Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being‘s “A Short Dictionary of Misunderstood Words,” because of the all capitalized section title, and because this is another example of how people associates more meaning to certain words than the dictionary meanings.
One last thing about the form is that they are supposed to be in the form of a museum exhibition. And the book is exhibiting unconditional surrender(s). However I am confused now with the title because we learn that there actually was such museum in Berlin and it was a Russian museum, and the one who surrendered was Fascist Germany. I was thinking in this book the ones who surrendered were the exiles and the one who they surrendered to is either to their own country or the general force of history. If I were the author, even if I got the idea of the title from the museum I wouldn’t mention that in my novel, because then the analogue of me would be Germany, which I don’t think an exile is. Fascist Germany indeed may be exiled from the right path of history after the war, but still it doesn’t really seem to fit.