On a recent visit to Kochi, German graphic artist, Line Hoven, talks about her novel, 'Love Looks Away'
Photos of Line Hoven by Ratheesh Sundaram
“One day, in the 1930s, my grandfather heard the Overture No. 7 by the Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn. And he was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the song that for the first time he went into a mental conflict,” says Line, as she points at a black and white drawing of her German grandfather Erich Hoven. “He was brought up to think that the Jews were not good people. Then he realised that someone who has made such a beautiful piece of music cannot be a bad person. When he recounted to me this memory, he started crying.”
Erich had been featured in Line's graphic novel, 'Love Looks Away'. In fact, the book is on her family. While Line has German grandparents, she also has American grandparents, Harold and Katherine. Once when her American mother went on a student exchange programme to Bonn, she met Line's father, Reinhard, fell in love and got married. After a brief stint in America, the family settled down in Bonn, Germany, where Reinhard is a doctor.
Because of her mixed upbringing, Line is not sure where she belongs. “During my childhood, there was an anti-American spirit in Germany,” she says. “Americans were regarded as superficial, stuck-up, and people who ruined the environment. But when, in high school, I stayed in Texas for a year, someone wrote 'Nazi' on my locker door. It was hard for me to decide to which side I belong.”
And Line is happy that there is a growing demand for graphic novels. One reason is because the world is moving towards a visual culture. Secondly, it is a new experience for all. Line's novel is now in its third reprint. “There is also an innate love for paper drawings,” says Line. “Probably, it reminds people of their drawing classes during their childhood.”
Meanwhile, Line is getting ready to work on her next book. Unusually, it is about ghosts. And she might even return to India in the near future. Because a Chennai-based children's publisher has offered her a month's residency, so that they could collaborate with her on a book. “I am excited about it,” she says.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)