A moving portrait of a young woman’s experience of life, love and the shifting tides of mental health in 1980s–era Berlin
In this beautifully written and moving novel, informed by many of the author’s own experiences, a young mixed-race woman travels from Canada to Germany to start her life anew. Ruby Edwards, escaping a loving but at times overbearing family, throws herself into the shifting social and political sinews of 1980s-era West Berlin—a time of new music, punk rockers, travellers, racial tensions and a beating pulse of artistic energy. Here, Ruby finds love and new challenges, striving to discover the person she was meant to be. But the highs become too high and the lows too low, and Ruby finds herself plunged into the depths of mental illness. With courage and determination, Ruby again and again pulls herself back from the brink and revels in what matters most to her—her family, her community and her own individuality. Inspiring and heart-rending, Cafe Babanussa is an engrossing, deftly crafted novel by a voice that was lost to us all too soon.
Also includes Karen Hill’s original essay, “On Being Crazy”.
About the author
KAREN HILL was born in Newmarket, Ontario, in 1958, and grew up in Toronto. After graduating from the University of Ottawa, she moved to West Berlin in 1979, where she stayed for nearly a decade. She became an avid traveller and spoke English, French, Spanish and German. Later, she returned to Toronto, where she raised her daughter Malaika Hill and administered an English as a second language program for the Toronto School Board and worked for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. Like her parents, Daniel and Donna Hill, and siblings, Lawrence and Dan, she wrote creatively and felt passionately about issues of gender, race and culture. She also struggled throughout her life with bipolar disorder. Karen worked for more than twenty years on Cafe Babanussa, which she had finished and was showing to publishers when she died in 2014.