For readers of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Dinner, a darkly comic and hauntingly surreal debut novel about what happens when ideologies crumble and the betrayer himself is betrayed
On November 9, 1989, Bernd Zeiger, a Stasi officer in the twilight of his career, is deteriorating from a mysterious illness. Alarmed by the abrupt disappearance a month earlier of Lara, a young waitress at his regular café with whom he has become obsessed, he chases a series of clues throughout Berlin. The details of Lara's vanishing trigger flashbacks to a past transgression. Twenty-five years earlier, Zeiger betrayed the secret of a friend, Johannes Held, a physicist who had infiltrated an American research institute dedicated to weaponizing the paranormal.
Now, on the day the Berlin Wall falls, the betrayal of his onetime friend has come back to haunt Zeiger. Was Lara the naïf she presented herself to be, or did she know more about him than she admitted? As the surveiller becomes the surveilled, all will be revealed, with shocking consequences.
Set in the final, turbulent days of the Cold War, The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures blends the high-wire espionage of John le Carré with the brilliant absurdist humour of Milan Kundera to evoke the dehumanizing forces that came to characterise communist East Germany. Jennifer Hofmann's debut is an affecting, layered investigation of conscience and country.