13 June 08 | Chad W. Post

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:

  • Publisher/Poet to look out for: Daniela Seel, Kookbooks

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.

  • 3 excellent German graphic novels/Comics:

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.

  • Felicitas Hoppe, Iwein Löwenritter (S. Fischer)

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.

  • Brigitte Kronauer: Die Kleider der Frauen (Reclam)
  • Antje Ravic Strubel: Gebrauchsanweisung Schweden (Piper)
  • Dieter Kühn: Gesamtwerk, aktuell: Gertrud Kolmar Leben und Werk (S. Fischer)

The book of Kuhn’s that sounds most interesting to me is one he wrote years ago that relates 29 imaginary biographies of Napoleon.

  • Arno Geiger: Es geht uns gut (Hanser)
  • Judith Schalansky: Blau steht dir nicht (Mare)
  • Heinrich Steinfest: Mariaschwarz Gebrauchsanweisung Österreich (Piper)
  • Karen Duve: Taxi (Eichborn)
  • Feridun Zaimoglu: Liebesbrand & Leyla (Kiepenheuer & Witsch)

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 . . . )

  • Marcel Bayer: Kaltenburg Suhrkamp
  • Thomas Hettche: Fahrtenbuch 1993-2007 Kiepenheuer & Witsch

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