In Conversation with Translator Daniel Bowles
On the occasion of the publication of the US edition.
In Berlin, Germany, in the early 1930s, the acclaimed Swiss film director Emil Nägeli receives the assignment of a lifetime: travel to Japan and make a film to establish the dominance of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi empire once and for all. But his handlers are unaware that Nägeli has colluded with the Jewish film critics to pursue an alternative objective—to create a monumental, modernist, allegorical spectacle to warn the world of the horror to come. Meanwhile, in Japan, the film minister Masahiko Amakasu intends to counter Hollywood’s growing influence and usher in a new golden age of Japanese cinema by exploiting his Swiss visitor. The arrival of Nägeli’s film-star fiancée and a strangely thuggish, pistol-packing Charlie Chaplin—as well as the first stirrings of the winds of war—soon complicates both Amakasu’s and Nägeli’s plans, forcing them to face their demons . . . and their doom.
© Frauke Finsterwalder
is a Swiss novelist whose books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. His previous novel, Imperium, was the recipient of the 2012 Wilhelm Raabe literature prize.
© Daniel Bowles
teaches German studies at Boston College. His previous translations include novels by Thomas Meinecke and short texts by Alexander Kluge and Rainald Goetz, as well as Kracht’s previous novel, Imperium.