The Accordeon Player

The Accordeon Player

142 pages
Genre: Short Stories, Literature
Marie-Luise Scherer's bravura piece of highly condensed, unique prose – a detailed panorama of globalization, East-West relations, Berlin dialect, post-Soviet railroads and plenty of Tolstoy

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, accordion player Vladimir Alexandrovich Kolenko, who had previously been able to make a decent living from his music in the health resorts of Crimea, finds himself unemployed. In order to continue to support his family, he decides to try his luck as a street musician in Germany. He fights his way through the bureaucratic jungle in Moscow and, after an odyssey through the post-Soviet railroad chaos, finally reaches Berlin, where he plays in cold subway shafts and underpasses against coin-operated children's excavators. He lives off the kindness of passing people, finds shelter with lonely widows, whose love-consuming advances are always accompanied by the risk of ending up on the street again, and finally even has to divorce his beloved wife in order to obtain his next residence permit.

With devoted empathy and inexhaustible wit, Marie-Luise Scherer depicts this life in transit and the many different existences that one encounters in it. Like an accordion, she unfolds the fate of her touching heroes page by page, showing us the reality that surrounds us, but which we often don't look at – or hear – so closely.

German title: Der Akkordeonspieler
ISBN: 978-3-95757-325-4
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2017
Sold to: Italy


Literary reportage

Marie-Luise Scherer, born in Saarbrücken in 1938, was a writer for Der Spiegel for more than twenty years, where her highly precise stories were first published. She has received numerous awards, including the Ludwig Börne Prize in 1994, the Italo Svevo Prize in 2008 and the Heinrich Mann Prize in 2011. She lived in Damnatz an der Elbe until her death in December 2022.

By the same author(s)

"An epic in short format, a whole world in one sentence, the language so clear. A Berlin must-read."  Der Tagesspiegel