There are 16 titles on the longlist for the inaugural Warwick Prize for Women in Translation, 3 of which are translated from German. A shortlist is to be announced imminently, and the German titles may not make it, but, nevertheless as November is German Literature Month, we can and shall celebrate them regardless.
EDIT: The shortlist has just been announced and 2 of the 3 German titles are on it!
Thanks to the generosity of the publishers, Comma Press and Portobello Books, I have one copy of each title to giveaway. Despite all having connections to the animal kingdom in their titles, their content is very different!
Swallow Summer – Larissa Boehning (Translated by Lyn Marven) (Shortlisted)
For short story lovers.
Two music producers pack up their studio – along with their dreams of ever making it in the industry – after too many bands fail to pay their bills…
A woman takes up an invitation to visit an ex-lover in Arizona, only to find his apartment is no bigger than a motel room…
A former drama student runs into an old classmate from ten years before, hardly recognising the timid creature he’s become…
Each character in Larissa Boehning’s debut collection experiences a moment where they’re forced to confront how differently things turned out, how quickly ambitions were shelved, or how easily people change. Former colleagues meet up to reminisce about the failed agency they used to work for; brothers-in-law find themselves co-habiting long after the one person they had in common passed away; fellow performers watch as their careers slowly drift in opposite directions. Boehning’s stories offer a rich store of metaphors for this abandonment: the downed tools of a deserted East German factory, lying exactly where they were dropped the day Communism fell; the old, collected cameras of a late father that seem to stare, wide-eyed, at the world he left behind. And yet, underpinning this abandonment, there is also great resilience. Like the cat spotted by a demolition worker in the penultimate story that sits, unflinching, as its home is bulldozed around it, certain spirits abide.
The Fox Was Ever The Hunter – Herta Müller (Translated by Phillip Boehm)
Romania, the last months of the dictator’s regime. Adina is a young schoolteacher. Paul is a musician. Clara, Adina’s friend, works in a wire factory. Pavel is Clara’s lover. But one of them works for the secret police and is reporting on the group.
One day Adina returns home to discover that her fox fur rug has had its tail cut off. On another day, a hindleg. Then a foreleg. The mutilation is a sign that she is being tracked – the fox was ever the hunter.
Images of photographic precision combine to form a kaleidoscope of reflections, deflections and deceit. Adina and her friends struggle to keep living in a world permeated with fear, where even the eyes of a cat seem complicit with the watchful eye of the state, and where it’s hard to tell the victim apart from the perpetrator.
Memoirs of A Polar Bear – Yoko Tawada (Translated by Susan Bernofsky) (Shortlisted)
Someone tickled me behind my ears, under my arms. I curled up, became a full moon, and rolled on the floor. I may also have emitted a few hoarse shrieks. Then I lifted my rump to the sky and tucked my head beneath my belly: Now I was a sickle moon, still too young to imagine any danger. Innocent, I opened my anus to the cosmos and felt it in my bowels.
A bear, born and raised in captivity, is devastated by the loss of his keeper; another finds herself performing in the circus; a third sits down one day and pens a memoir which becomes an international sensation, and causes her to flee her home.
Through the stories of these three bears, Tawada reflects on our own humanity, the ways in which we belong to one another and the ways in which we are formed. Delicate and surreal, Memoirs of a Polar Bear takes the reader into foreign bodies and foreign climes, and immerses us in what the New Yorker has called ‘Yoko Tawada’s magnificent strangeness’.
I intend reading and reviewing all three during November. My review of Memoirs of A Polar Bear will appear on 15.11.2017 as it is an official German Literature Month Readalong. Review dates for the others are to be determined, but most likely to be during the second half of the month.
To enter tne giveaway, let me know which title you would like to win. (It could be all three, but potential winnings are restricted to one per entrant.) Entry to the competition comes with a commitment to read and discuss the book during German Literature Month. (Either through review on your own blog, a book review site or in comments on my review.)
This is an international giveaway and winners will be notified on Sunday 15.10.2017.