Wonderful Wednesdays are a tradition when to comes to German Literature Month. When kind sponsors of the event offer us books to giveaway, then Wednesdays are the day on which we do just that.
Week One of the 2014 German Literature Month is Award Winners Week and I’m delighted to be able to offer two hot-off-the-press prize winners from New Vessel Press.
I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar won the 2012 Austrian Alpha Prize for Literature.
Twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro has spent the last two years of his life living as a hikikomori—a shut-in who never leaves his room and has no human interaction—in his parents’ home in Tokyo. As Hiro tentatively decides to reenter the world, he spends his days observing life around him from a park bench. Gradually he makes friends with Ohara Tetsu, a middle-aged salaryman who has lost his job but can’t bring himself to tell his wife, and shows up every day in a suit and tie to pass the time on a nearby bench. As Hiro and Tetsu cautiously open up to each other, they discover in their sadness a common bond. Regrets and disappointments, as well as hopes and dreams, come to the surface until both find the strength to somehow give a new start to their lives. This beautiful novel is moving, unforgettable, and full of surprises. The reader turns the last page feeling that a small triumph has occurred.
You can read an excerpt of the translation by Sheila Dickie here.
Who is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko won the 2013 Adalbert von Chamisso Prize.
96-year-old ornithologist Luka Levadski foregoes treatment for lung cancer and moves from Ukraine to Vienna to make a grand exit in a luxury suite at the Hotel Imperial. He reflects on his past while indulging in Viennese cakes and savoring music in a gilded concert hall. Levadski was born in 1914, the same year that Martha – the last of the now-extinct passenger pigeons – died. Levadski himself has an acute sense of being the last of a species. He may have devoted much of his existence to studying birds, but now he befriends a hotel butler and another elderly guest, who also doesn’t have much time left, to share in the lively escapades of his final days. This gloriously written tale, in which Levadski feels “his heart pounding at the portals of his brain,” mixes piquant wit with lofty musings about life, friendship, aging and death.
You can read an excerpt of the translation by Arabella Spencer here.
Reasons to enter this giveaway: They both sound delicious. (May I enter too?). They should appeal to anyone participating in #readwomen2014 and will give a kick start to the new initiative #womenintranslation. Plus both titles, if reviewed, will earn 2 entries into the German Literature Month Pick and Mix prize draw. (More info here.)
If you wish to enter, simply leave a comment saying which title you would like to review during German Literature Month and where you would review it. The winners will be selected randomly and notified on Sunday 5.10.2014. Books will be sent directly by the publisher. Competition open internationally.
P.S Hop over to Caroline’s place. There are more giveaways to be had.
EDIT: Link to Caroline’s place now working.