Dignity in Image and Word: Franz Fühmann’s “What Kind of Island in What Kind of Sea,” Translated from German by Elizabeth C. Hamilton
Originally published in 1986 by Insel Verlag, during what would be the last years of the GDR’s existence, the book combines image and word to create portraits of the residents of the Samaritans’ Institution, a Protestant Church-run home for cognitively disabled children and adults. The images, a collection of uncaptioned photographs by Dietmar Riemann, are contextualized and reflected upon in Fühmann’s powerful essay that opens the volume.
From Deportation to the Laocoön, an Archival Fiction: Hans von Trotha’s “Pollak’s Arm,” Translated from German by Elisabeth Lauffer
The book is about Austrian art dealer, museum director, and archaeologist Ludwig Pollak (Prague 1868-Auschwitz 1943), who found the arm of Laocoön in 1906, four-hundred years after the discovery of the famous sculpture grouping itself, and was deported
Translators on Books That Should Be Translated: Soma Morgenstern’s “Der Sohn des verlorenen Sohnes” (1935)
Thanks to the work of editor Ingolf Schulte, Morgenstern’s works appeared in a complete German edition in the 1990s, two decades after his death in New York. All the novels are now available in paperback in German. We can be grateful that Morgenstern saw the publication of the entire trilogy in English between 1946 and 1950, and at the same time recognize the need for an updated translation for modern readers. Given the recent upswell of interest in the lost world of Jewish Galicia, the time is ripe for this.
Take me to the Pity Party! Anke Stelling’s “Higher Ground,” Translated from German by Lucy Jones
Resi’s written reactions to her circumstances eventually reveal that her chaotic and humorous take on motherhood is a vehicle for her to obsessively explain and justify the catastrophic falling out she had with her group of closest friends.
“Remember me, whispers the dust”: Peter Huchel’s “These Numbered Days,” translated from German by Martyn Crucefix
By Rebecca DeWald It’s been a peculiar experience to discover the German poet Peter Huchel (1903-1981) in this lockdown year, when we were all forced to stay indoors and grapple with the loss of our social lives, while paying closer attention to the details and routines of our everyday lives. For some, this experience may […]
“I’d like to believe you”: Peter Stamm’s “The Sweet Indifference of the World,” Translated from German by Michael Hofmann
Both Stamm and Hoffmann have earned the right to be self-congratulatory — The Sweet Indifference is virtuosic.
Modernist Nostalgia: Joseph Roth’s “The Coral Merchant,” translated from German by Ruth Martin
Martin has selected six of Roth’s most beautiful and penetrating stories, written between 1920 (the year Roth moved from Vienna to Berlin) and 1939 (the year Roth died in his Parisian exile), for this volume.
“Lost and Found”: Franz Kafka’s “The Lost Writings,” Translated from German by Michael Hofmann
Anyone who is interested in Kafka—which is to say pretty much everyone who is interested in literature—will be curious to read the “lost writings” of a man who famously, at the time of his death, wanted all of his unpublished work destroyed.
Recurring Currents: Esther Kinsky’s “River,” translated from German by Iain Galbraith
By Rebecca DeWald When I first read Stan Nadolny’s The Discovery of Slowness (translated from German by Ralph Freedman), which follows Sir John Franklin on his arctic exploration, I was struck by the way in which the quality of “slowness” both becomes a plot device and its conceit: the reader sees the world through […]
‘AFTER THE OLYMPICS WE’LL GET RUTHLESS’: Berlin 1936 by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Jefferson Chase
Reviewed by Peter Hegarty Translator Jefferson Chase would have found Oliver Hilmes’s Berlin 1936: Sixteen Days in August pleasantly familiar. A resident of Berlin, he walks the same streets as Hilmes’s characters. He knows their haunts, the places where they lived, caroused, suffered. He can easily visit the austerely beautiful Olympic stadium on which the […]
SMOTHERED BY A STORY: PETER STAMM’S AGNES, TRANSLATED BY MICHAEL HOFMANN
Reviewed by Daniel Kennedy Although Agnes is the sixth of Peter Stamm’s books to be published in the US by Other Press in Michael Hofmann’s translation, it is in fact his debut novel. With this slim volume, first published in 1998, Peter Stamm established himself as one of the most promising Swiss writers of his […]
Narration Between Species: Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear, Translated by Susan Bernofsky
Reviewed by Jordan A. Y. Smith [Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar is one of those novels that makes one loathe to reveal not only the ending but the beginning, so I will open with my clichéd but earnest recommendation that you trust me—and Tawada’s stellar and well-earned reputation—go read the novel, then continue reading this […]
Boundless Language: Melinda Nadj Abonji’s Fly Away, Pigeon, Translated by Tess Lewis
Reviewed by Rachel Harland In an interview given shortly after receiving the 2010 German Book Prize* for her semi-autobiographical novel Fly Away, Pigeon, Serbian-born Swiss author Melinda Nadj Abonji was asked whether it annoyed her that in the run-up to the award announcement commentators had labeled her book “immigrant literature.” Her response? “It doesn’t annoy […]
“The Country of Old Men”: Maxim Leo’s Red Love, Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Reviewed by Rachel Harland “I had the feeling that the GDR only really came to an end at that moment,” writes Berlin-based journalist Maxim Leo in the prologue to his autobiographical narrative Red Love: The Story of an East German Family. “Eighteen years after the fall of the Wall the stern hero had disappeared. Before […]
What His Shadow Did: Karl Krolow’s Selected Poems, Translated by Stuart Friebert
Reviewed by Joshua Daniel Edwin As a poet, translator, critic, and essayist, Karl Krolow’s influence is enormous. In his remarks on the back jacket of Puppets in the Wind: Selected Poems of Karl Krolow, translator Stuart Friebert notes that “[f]ew writers who lived during Krolow’s lifetime were without his direct or indirect support.” In addition […]