Read and discuss works by contemporary German authors in this series hosted by the Goethe-Institut. All books can be read in recent English translation or in the German original; our discussion will be in English. Led by local German professor Amanda Sheffer
(The Catholic University of America), this book club focuses on contemporary fiction and will explore experiences and thoughts about the text.
Before the Feast (Vor dem Fest) by Saša Stanišić (2014, translated by Anthea Bell in 2016)
It’s the evening before the feast in the village of Fürstenfelde (population: an odd number). The village is asleep. Except for the ferryman—he’s dead.
Someone has opened the doors to the Village Archive, but what drives the sleepless out of their houses is not that which was stolen, but that which has escaped. Old stories, myths, and fairy tales are wandering about the streets with the people. They come together in a novel about a long night, a mosaic of village life, in which the long-established and newcomers, the dead and the living, craftsmen, pensioners, and noble robbers in football jerseys bump into one another. They all want to bring something to a close, on this night before the feast.
Saša Stanišić (1978-)
Saša Stanišić was born in Visegrad, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1978 and has lived in Germany since 1992. His debut novel, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone
, was acclaimed by readers and critics alike, and has been translated into thirty languages so far. In 2019, he received the German Book Prize for his novel Origins
. Before the Feast
also won several prizes, including the 2014 Leipzig Book Fair Prize, and was long listed for the German Book Prize.
Anthea Bell (1926-2018)
Anthea Bell was the recipient of the Schlegel Tieck Prize for translation from German, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize in 2002 for the translation of W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz
, and the 2003 Austrian State Prize for Literary Translation. She lived in Cambridge, England.