“She bade him farewell, knowing they would never meet again in this world, and headed for home, reflecting on how there are no outsiders in the world of music and stories.”
A young Syrian refugee feels the urge to enter a church in Germany, overwhelmed by the notes of Händel’s Messiah. An elderly German woman and her neighbour whom she barely knows, an Arab mother of four, hug each other when they discover they have more in common than they thought. A retired teacher reflects on her roots when she meets a Spanish student in the Bavarian countryside. A tour guide recalls the civil war that tore her beloved Ireland apart only a few decades earlier. What do these stories have in common? They are stories of everyday people who, for one reason or another, feel displaced, outsiders, strangers to their surroundings. But sometimes a chance encounter, a shared experience, or maybe the notes of a song, are all it takes to feel at home again, and then, the other does not seem so different from us anymore.
With her delicate writing, Sheila Gutknecht explores the concepts of identity, belonging, and otherness.
Sheila Gutknecht (née McBride) was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After meeting her German husband-to-be at a Kibbutz in Israel, she left Belfast at the height of the Troubles in 1975 and has been living in Germany ever since. Never having lost a strong attachment to her home country, Sheila has always been deeply interested in the question of identity and what it means to be an outsider.
Outsiders is her first short story collection.