Book Discussion LitHAUS: The Interim

LitHAUS © Goethe-Institut

Thu, 04/21/2022

18:30 CST


This month, the LitHAUS reading group will be reading The Interim (2000) by Wolfgang Hilbig and the book discussion will take place on April 21st @ 6:30 PM. Please register for the event beforehand and join the discussion.

LitHAUS meetings are free, take place online, and open to everyone interested. Just click the green Zoom button on planned date and time to join the discussion. Participants must purchase the individual texts themselves and are expected to have read the title to be discussed prior to the meeting.

Feel free to read the novel in English or German; the discussion will be in English.
Book cover: The Interim © Two Lines Press The Interim (2000)

C. is a wretched grump, an anguished patron of bars, peep shows, and train stations. He is also an acclaimed East German writer. Dogged by writer’s block, remorse, and national guilt in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he leaves the monochromatic existence of the GDR for the neon excess of the West.

There at least the novelty of his origins grant him easy money and minor celebrity, if also a deflating sense of complacency. With his visa set to expire and several relationships hanging in the balance, C. travels back and forth, mentally and physically, between two Germanys, contemplating diverging visions of the world and what they mean for people like him: alienated and aimless witnesses to history.

 This monumental novel from one of the greatest chroniclers of postwar Germany, masterfully translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, interrogates with bitter wit and singular brilliance the detritus of twentieth-century life: addiction, consumerism, God, pay-per-view pornography, selfishness, statelessness, and above all else, the writer’s place in a “century of lies.”

Summary by Two Lines Press

Wolfgang Hilbig © 3:AM Magazine Wolfgang Hilbig (1941–2007) was one of the major German writers to emerge in the postwar era. Though raised in East Germany, he proved so troublesome to the authorities that in 1985 he was granted permission to emigrate to the West. The author of more than twenty books, he received virtually all of Germany’s major literary prizes, capped by the 2002 Georg Büchner Prize, Germany’s highest literary honor.

Isabel Fargo Cole is a U.S.-born, Berlin-based writer and translator. Her translations include five books of Wolfgang Hilbig’s, including Old Rendering Plant, for which she received the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize. She has also been the recipient of a prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Grant, and her novel Die grüne Grenze was a finalist for the 2018 Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse.