Monday, 28 October 2013

Swiss Book Prize to Jens Steiner

The novel Carambole by Jens Steiner has won the Swiss Book Prize, worth 30,000 Swiss Franks. Narrated from a dozen perspectives, it's a portrait of a Swiss village. I have read only an extract (the book was longlisted for the German Book Prize too) and found it not to my taste. But then I rarely enjoy books about villages. The NZZ writes:
The book introduces readers to the microcosm of a village, which is gradually collapsing into a faceless agglomeration and groaning at the summer heat (...). The individual chapters or 'rounds' are narrated by villagers of various ages and both genders; the result is a multiple-perspective jigsaw – with gaps. Despite overlaps, no complete picture comes about. Secrets are only partly revealed, or not at all. That makes for an exciting reading experience, although the all-encompassing mood is one of sluggish uneventfulness, jaded everyday boredom, nervous inaction, if not of sheer desperation.

2 comments:

Alexandra Roesch said...

Hi Katy,
I translated the first chapter for the publisher and I have to say it is actually a lot better than is first appears. Yes, it is about a village in Switzerland, so you might well question how enticing that concept is, but Steiner is rhetorically very clever and the language the teenage characters use is at times really funny. I think later on in the book it may loose some of its charm, but I really enjoyed doing the initial chapter.
Cheers,
alex

kjd said...

Hi Alex, I'm glad to hear it's just me then.