The independent student newspaper at Goucher College

A Look into Slow Time from Professor Antje Rauwerda


By Jaiden Johnson

On April 12th, the Kratz Center hosted a reading of Slow Time, a novel written by one of Goucher’s longtime professors, Antje Rauwerda.

Rauwerda is a Professor of British and Post-Colonial Literature, but over her 20 years of tenure, her content has evolved to include, as she puts it, “anything that is not American in any period.” While Slow Time is her debut into fiction, Rauwerda has written several nonfiction essays about third-culture kids like her, people who grew up outside of their parent’s passport country but “weren’t immigrants [because] they… knew they were gonna have to go back to their passport country.” Notably, she’s also analyzed and written an article on the cookbooks of one of the winners of the Great British Baking Show, Nadia Hussein.

For her this new fiction piece, Slow Time, was a long time in the making.

“I had a very first draft by the end of [summer 2016]” Rauwerda said. “I worked on it for… another two and a half years after that.”

It still took another two and a half years for the professor to reach a final draft, dealing with life and teaching. However, the process didn’t end once the writing was finished. Rauwerda recalled during her reading the extensive process of calling several publishers and receiving rejection after rejection.

“I [just] put it aside and worked on other things until this time last year when I sent it out again and then it got picked up,” she said.

The novel was published by Spuyten Duyvil, a publishing press whose motto is “Let the beauty you love be what you do.” And that love certainly shines in this entertaining, thought-provoking read. Slow Time follows three main perspectives: a woman named Em who’s recently moved back into her parents’ house after their passing, a man named Danny who’s lived in Baltimore most of his life but can’t escape his past, and the Place, the land that both our human protagonists live and interact on. The novel’s relationship with time is interesting; it goes from present day narrative to troubling past memories. Each memory is important and impactful, especially for Danny and Em, but in comparison to the Place’s history, human memory is but a blip in time.

“…Place has its own geological time. …I look up at the stars and [it’s] a reminder of how tiny I am,” Rauwerda said. “We’ve …[built] buildings…but we’re so tiny. Memory is tiny but… time is huge.”

In exploring the human connection with time and place, Slow Time endeavors to showcase how one can heal from past trauma. As Rauwerda explained it, Danny experienced a traumatic event in his childhood related to his deceased mother’s house. The Place, knowing that he hasn’t been able to move on, manipulates the landscape so that he crosses paths with Em. They each have their own struggles they’re trying to overcome, but together in an unlikely friendship, they can heal their past histories.

There are so many different aspects to this book that are appealing in their own ways. The drama and tension between the characters, getting into their heads and seeing them not just as words on a page but people in their own right. The poetry of the Place’s voice speaks not just for eco criticism but also a look into Baltimore’s history and how it’s developed over the years. It’s not just a novel to read and enjoy, but one to understand how Baltimore came to be.

However, Rauwerda has advised those reading the Quindecim to not just see Baltimore on a page, but to experience it for oneself. Going up from Dulaney Valley Road and crossing the Towson Circle is York Road.

“I would say eat a good meal [there] and go for as long a walk as you can,” Rauwerda said. “Be careful with the traffic if you do this, but I’d say [go] on foot. If you can walk, you see a place differently than if you drive through it.”

Another piece of advice Rauwerda has to give comes from her writing journey. She encouraged young writers to lean on their friends for feedback, to see where they can improve from similar responses even if they don’t always agree. But also to be resilient when it’s time to send it out.

“I think you need a big ego, or a resilient ego to get things published,” she said. “[There’s] luck and a bit of [randomness, but] persistence matters, and faith in your own project because you’ll hear a lot of no.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Go to Top