Christian Kracht: IMPERIUM
The discussion in English will be moderated by Jana-Maria Hartmann
The European Book Club (organized by the Goethe-Institut Chicago and EUNIC Chicago) meets regularly for a book discussion of a bestselling novel in English translation. Guests who would like to attend, should read the book in advance and come prepared to participate in the discussion.
An outrageous, fantastical, uncategorizable novel of obsession, adventure, and coconuts
In 1902, a radical vegetarian and nudist from Nuremberg named August Engelhardt set sail for what was then called the Bismarck Archipelago, in German New Guinea. His destination: the island Kabakon. His goal: to establish a colony based on worship of the sun and coconuts. His malnourished body was found on the beach on Kabakon in 1919; he was forty-three years old.
Christian Kracht's Imperium uses the outlandish details of Engelhardt's life to craft a fable about the allure of extremism and its fundamental foolishness. Engelhardt is at once a pitiable, misunderstood outsider and a rigid ideologue, and his misguided notions of purity and his spiral into madness presage the horrors of the mid-twentieth century.
Playing with the tropes of classic adventure tales such as Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe, Kracht's novel, an international bestseller, is funny, bizarre, shocking, and poignant. His allusions are misleading, his historical time line is twisted, his narrator is unreliable--and the result is a novel that is a cabinet of mirrors, a maze pitted with trapdoors. Both a provocative satire and a serious meditation on the fragility and audacity of human activity, Imperium is impossible to categorize and utterly unlike anything you've read before.
is a Swiss novelist whose books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. His previous novels include Faserland, 1979, and I Will Be Here in Sunshine and in Shadow. Imperium was the recipient of the 2012 Wilhelm Raabe literature prize.
teaches German studies at Boston College. His previous translations include novels by Thomas Meinecke and short texts by Alexander Kluge and Rainald Goetz.He was awarded the 2016 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize for this translation.
Born in Germany, Jana-Maria Hartmann
studied Comparative Literature at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the Sorbonne in Paris and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course. After internships at Verlagsgruppe Random House in Munich and Bettina Schrewe’s scouting agency in New York, she moved to the German capital to work as an editor for BerlinVerlag for more than six years. In 2015, she moved to Chicago to launch her own literary scouting agency, JMH Scouting.
IMPERIUM on Facebook
IMPERIUM is now available in the English translation by Daniel Bowles.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Tra edition (July 2015)
ISBN-10: 0374175241 / ISBN-13: 978-0374175245
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