Twenty-five years earlier, at the height of the Cold War, physicist Johannes Held was ordered by the state to infiltrate a scientific institute in the Arizona desert, with the intention of learning how to weaponize the paranormal. On his return to Germany, he refused to divulge what he had discovered, and Zeiger, a rising Stasi officer, was tasked with obtaining a confession from him. In a strange twist, Zeiger became a friend to Held, but soon betrayed him — an act that haunts him to the present day and will prove to be connected to Lara’s disappearance, with potentially devastating consequences for Zeiger.
Jennifer Hofmann has created an extraordinary and affecting portrait of the dehumanizing political forces that played out in communist East Germany, tempered, all the while, by a unique, absurdist sense of humor. The Standardization of Demoralization Procedures is a brilliantly layered and deeply human work of fiction that addresses headlong the conflict between conscience and country.