We travel to find ourselves, to run away. What we discover can be confronting.
A Guide to Berlin is the name of a short story written by Vladimir Nabokov in 1925, when he was a young man of 26, living in Berlin. It is unusual in that it concerns everyday objects, not monuments - the 'guide' is one man's pub-talk, and consists of small noticed details and random visions recorded on an inconsequential winter's day in the Berlin of the 20s.
In this contemporary novel, A Guide to Berlin, six strangers to the city - two Italians, two Japanese, one American and one Australian - meet over their interest in Vladimir Nabokov's work. They enter a kind of informal narrative contract to offer up 'speak-memories' to each other. Each shares stories of their past and forms friendships and relationships within their international circle.
The plot turns on a sudden moment of violence. The city of Berlin transfixes them all, but in deeply personal and distinctive ways, so that although there is a net of affiliations and shared images, the city is different for each of them.