Following up on yesterday’s post about the Helen and Kurt Wolff Symposium I thought I’d pass along the list of works (and publishers) that Denis Scheck recommended in his presentation on contemporary German literature.
Denis Scheck is one of Germany’s most respected critics, and has both a radio and a TV show about books. He’s also a translator and a literary editor. (He used to have a line of books that in some way related to the sea—which included books such as David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again for the title essay about a cruise ship (which is one of the funniest pieces I’ve ever read)—and is now starting a line of food-related books.)
Here’s the recommendations he gave us:
I want to personally second this. Daniela was at the symposium, so I got to know her a bit, and she’s an incredible person. Her poetry was beautiful (although I don’t understand a word of German, I was still blown away by the poems she read in the original) and her publishing house is incredibly interesting. She gave a speech about Kookbooks and how it came out of an artistic movement that included a record label, various visual art projects, etc., all under the label of “Kook.” The books themselves are gorgeous—very high quality, all designed with a similar sort of abstract and eye-catching artwork—and relatively inexpensive. (Because she has almost no overhead—and no employees—she’s able to keep the prices under 20 euro, which is pretty amazing for hardcovers of this quality.) The titles are fairly experimental, and the list features a lot of younger authors who she’s trying to grow with the press. Definitely worth checking out.
Isabel Kreitz: Der 35. Mai. Als Comic. (Dressler Verlag)
Anke Feuchtenberger/Kathrin de Vries: Die Hure H wirft den Handschuh (Reprodukt Verlag)
Volker Reiche: Strizz (FAZ)
There was a bit of discussion about graphic novels (especially since this is so hot in the States these days), which is why Denis recommended the three above titles.
Hoppe was actually in the States for the PEN World Voices festival a few years back. She’s someone who comes up time and again in glowing terms, yet none of her titles have been translated into English . . . This title is a children’s book.
The book of Kuhn’s that sounds most interesting to me is one he wrote years ago that relates 29 imaginary biographies of Napoleon.
This is the author that the three women who won the Susan Sontag Translation Prize are working on. The book they’re translated (yes, it is a collaborative translation) is Koppstoff: Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft, which consists of 26 fictionalized voices of Turkish women in Germany. They read a section of this at the symposium that enthralled everyone. (It helps that this came at the end of the day and was a very energetic, flowing rant filled with vular language and slang. It had an amazing rhythm, and I think all of the publishers in the room were very enthused . . . )
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .