"My great-grandfather Arva Fargo had run off to Alaska to look for gold. He ran off to the Yukon. He ran off to the Klondike. A shard of history, dug out, put back perplexed." More than a hundred years after her ancestor, Isabel Fargo Cole sets off from Germany to Alaska, from there via Seattle towards California, on the trail of Arva Fargo and his feverish search for gold - the curse and blessing of so many biographies of the 'Gilded Age' at the end of the 19th century. The 'shards of history' she finds, not only in the abandoned claims, she assembles into a polyphonic research and travel diary into a foreign, seemingly immeasurable land between East and West, between exploitation and preservation. For the world's largest exclave, though sparsely populated, is occupied by fantasies of pristine wilderness and hidden riches like no other stretch of land. Cole's expedition leads deep into the depths of the American dream, which still attracts and spits out crowds with its powerful promises: adventurous soldiers of fortune, vagabonds and heroes of faded newspaper reports. What she unearths is more valuable than gold: a narrative-essayistic prospecting field full of stories and reflections on a borderland of foreign homelands.
English sample available
Isabel Fargo Cole, born in 1973 in Galena, Illinois, grew up in New York, studied literature, history and philosophy at the University of Chicago before moving to Berlin in 1995 to study Russian and Modern German Literature at Humboldt University. She lives as an author and translator in Berlin.