Ijoma Mangold

Ijoma Mangold

Ijoma Alexander Mangold is one of Germany’s leading literary critics and this is his reflective and compelling memoir of growing up different – both in terms of his ethnicity and his interests – in 1970s Heidelberg, in the USA as the German Wall fell, and as a young adult in the new Germany. His own story is inextricably linked with that of his mother, an ethnic German from the eastern province of Silesia, forced to escape as a refugee in the expulsions from 1944, and to start afresh in utter poverty in West Germany. His Nigerian father came to Germany as a medical student but returned before Ijoma was old enough to remember him. When he reappears on the scene in Ijoma’s early twenties, it forces a crash collision with an unknown culture, one he has grown up always suspicious of, and a new complex family history to come to terms with. This fascinating memoir explores many questions experienced in his young years in a country where he was often referred to as a “Mischling” or “Mulatte.” How does it feel to grow up without a father? What is the relationship between class and race? And what is more likely to garner someone suspicion in Germany: having brown skin or developing a passion for Thomas Mann and Richard Wagner? Mangold’s path to becoming one of Germany’s leading arts critics makes for stimulating reading not only for what it says about modern Germany but also what it shows us about the interplay of race and class more universally. Ijoma Mangold was born in Heidelberg in 1971 and studied literature and philosophy in Munich and Bologna. After working for the newspapers Berliner Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung, he moved to the weekly Die Zeit in 2009, where he was literary editor from 2013 to 2018. He is now Die Zeit’s cultural correspondent. He is one of four critics for the SWR television programme, Lesenswert. Mangold lives in Berlin.