Friday, 19 November 2010

Thomas Lehr: September

Very occasionally, I feel compelled to share my opinion on a particular book or subject with the wider world. Wider than the readers of love german books, that is. I know, you're already very wide, and I love you all, but still.

Thomas Lehr's September. Fata Morgana is one of those books. It was longlisted for the German Book Prize, which was when I first read an extract from it. Then it made the shortlist, and I had the honour of translating an extract from it - which was an absolute pleasure and very difficult. Thankfully, the writer was extremely helpful and friendly (Thomas Lehr even went as far as reworking my originally rather weak translations of the poems contained in the text).

Three things you need to know about the book:

1. It has no punctuation. That means the multiple voices flow and eddy around you and almost make you dizzy, especially at the beginning. But it takes a remarkably short time to get used to it.

2. It's about two fathers and two daughters, in the USA and Iraq. And about 9/11, and Orientalism, and families, and love, and literature, and loss.

3. You really ought to read it, because it's damn good.

In fact I loved it so much that I wrote a whole article about it - in German, which is a very, very hard thing to do. For me. You can read it at - in German and in English (my translation of myself, which is a very, very easy thing to do).

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