Short Letter, Long Farewell

Peter Handke - 1972
    Full of seedy noir atmospherics and boasting an air of generalized delirium, the book starts by introducing us to a nameless young German who has just arrived in America, where he hopes to get over the collapse of his marriage. No sooner has he arrived however, than he discovers that his ex-wife is pursuing him. He flees, she follows, and soon the couple is running circles around each other across the length of America—from Philadelphia to St. Louis to the Arizona desert, and from Portland, Oregon, to L.A. Is it love or vengeance that they want from each other? Everything’s spectacularly unclear in a book that is travelogue, suspense story, domestic comedy, and Western showdown, with a totally unexpected Hollywood twist at the end. Above all, Short Letter, Long Farewell is a love letter to America, its landscapes and popular culture, the invitation and the threat of its newness and wildness and emptiness, with the promise of a new life—or the corpse of an old one—lying just around the corner.


Thomas Bernhard - 1978
    For the scientist, his endless talks with the strange Asian woman mean release from his condition, but for the Persian woman, as her own circumstances deteriorate, there is only one answer."Thomas Bernhard was one of the few major writers of the second half of this century."--Gabriel Josipovici, Independent"With his death, European letters lost one of its most perceptive, uncompromising voices since the war."--SpectatorWidely acclaimed as a novelist, playwright, and poet, Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) won many of the most prestigious literary prizes of Europe, including the Austrian State Prize, the Bremen and Brüchner prizes, and Le Prix Séguier.

Tales from the Underworld: Selected Shorter Fiction

Hans Fallada - 2014
    Darkly funny, searingly honest short stories from Hans Fallada, author of bestselling Alone in BerlinIn these stories, criminals lament how hard it is to scrape a living by breaking and entering; families measure their daily struggles in marks and pfennigs; a convict makes a desperate leap from a moving train; a ring - and with it a marriage - is lost in a basket of potatoes.Here, as in his novels, Fallada is by turns tough, darkly funny, streetwise and effortlessly engaging, writing with acute feeling about ordinary lives shaped by forces larger than themselves: addiction, love, money.

Collected Short Stories

Bertolt Brecht - 1970
    In Collected Stories, which includes the prize-winning "The Monster" and the fragmentary memoir "Life Story of the Boxer Samson-Korner", fans will find the same directness, lack of affectation, and wry humor that characterize his plays. The new edition of Brecht's Selected Poems includes both Brecht's best-known poems, many of which later made their way into his plays, as well as some that have never before been published in this country. For his new adaptation of The Goad Person of Setzuan, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winner Tony Kushner commissioned a literal translation, which he then refined as any translator would, but with the flair of an innate dramatist.

Local Anaesthetic

Günter Grass - 1969
    Under local anesthesia, the patient projects onto the screen his past and present with the fluidity and visual quality of the movies. A satirical portrait of social confusions. Translated by Ralph Manheim. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

Life Is a Caravanserai

Emine Sevgi Özdamar - 1992
    This is a women’s world: the mother, Fatma, nurtures her three children, with the grandmother Ayşe and the “aunties” of the neighbourhood, while Mustafa, the often unemployed father, recites Orhan Veli and drinks copious rakı, dreaming of building a larger family home. Here is the Turkey of the 1950s and early 1960s, with its political struggles, growing urbanisation, the Korean War, American comic books and the departure of the first wave of workers to Germany. The Anatolian grandparents carry with them their sagas of the war and the nascent Turkish Republic, enriched by wisdom, humour and village folklore. The author’s wonderful use of local narrative, storytelling, proverbs and prayers, and a prose that moves from the lyrical to gritty humour, re-creates this microcosm of neighbourhoods from a young girl’s intimate perspective. We follow her as she sits in school, visits relatives, dreams, listens to stories and experiments with early passions. Reality merges into mythological visions as, naïve, witty and explorative, she absorbs the colourful world around her.

Masquerade and Other Stories

Robert Walser - 1990
    Gass calls his "true profession." From 1899 until he was misdiagnosed a schizophrenic and hospitalized in 1933, Walser produced nine novels and more than a thousand short stories and prose pieces.Walser's contemporary admirers were few but well-placed. They included Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Robert Musil, and Walter Benjamin. Today Robert Walser is widely regarded as one of the most important and original literary voices of the twentieth century. In "Masquerade" and Other Stories, Susan Bernofsky presents a representative selection of Walser's work, from his first published fiction to the stately prose of the last years before his voice vanished forever behind the asylum walls. Written between 1899 and 1933, these 64 sketches, scenes, stories, and wanderings through landscapes and dreamscapes are characterized by startling, skewed comparisons, warpings of syntax, vagaries of perspective, and a delight in contradiction. Quirky, playful, and sometimes bizarre, Walser's texts were unconventional by the standards of the early twentieth century. They are still innovative in the context of today's fiction.

Right and Left

Joseph Roth - 1929
    With tragic foresight, "Right and Left," first published in 1929, evokes the nightlife, corruption, political unrest, and economic tyranny of Berlin in the twenties, the same territory covered trenchantly in Roth's reportage, recently published as "What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-33." After serving in World War I, Paul Bernheim returns to Berlin to find himself heir to his recently deceased father's banking empire. Increasingly beset by skyrocketing inflation, and dismayed by his brother's infatuation with the brownshirts, Bernheim turns to an outsider for help?a profiteering Russian ?migr? whose advice proves alternately advantageous and disastrous. Too late to change his fate, he realizes he has been decieved by a master in the craft of manipulation.


Ingeborg Bachmann - 1971
    Plunging toward its riveting finale, Malina brutally lays bare the struggle for love and the limits of discourse between women and men.

A Handful of Rice

Kamala Markandaya - 1966
    Ravi , son of a peasant, joins in the general exodus to the city, and, floating through the indifferent streets, lands into the underworld of petty criminals. He falls in love with pretty Nalini, and marries her against all odds. She tries to change his way of life but fate conspires against him . . And the story moves to a memorable and a haunting climax. MEDIA REVIEWS:From among the handful of Indo-Anglian women novelists, Kamala Markandaya stands out as one of the3 finest and most impassionate writers of fiction. Her greatest asset is her language - virile, vibrant and vigorous - with the right choice and turn of words and expressions. A Handful of Rice certainly makes an absorbing and enjoyable reading. - Sunday StandardThe picture of a joint family with its many psychological stresses and strains is deftly drawn, and so is the picture of the shady underworld. The novel is, in a sense, a saga of the triumph of human spirit over poverty's privations and predicaments. - The Indian PENAn overwhelmingly real book. It is about those parts of us, as human beings, which are permanent and universal - love, hunger, lust, passion, ambition, sacrifice, death. She is the best writer now writing who generally uses an Indian background. - John Masters

The Safety Net

Heinrich Böll - 1979
    The Tolm family, for example, abandons the most difficult problem to the enormously bloated police apparatus, depending on whether the individuals are more likely to belong to the suspects or the vulnerable or even to both categories. This increases compulsively, as the signs pile up, threatening a new stop. But Fritz Tolm achieves a new clarity.

Five Women

Robert Musil - 1924
    Opening the volume are a trio of tales, two of which, "Grigia" and "Tonka," investigate the sexuality of peasant women. Musil's cerebral style seamlessly executes his explorations of the mind/body duality, the ways society and intellectual life affect, but do not eradicate, the truth of the carnal body. His attitudes toward femininity oscillate between fear, disenchantment and adoration, and in stories written over 75 years ago, this range of perception will be tantalizing for readers who value innovative classics. (From Publishers Weekly)

The Maurizius Case

Jakob Wassermann - 1928
    Leonhart Maurizarius, convicted of the muder of his wife, is languishing in prison. His case has been forgotten by everyone except the imprisoned man and his father, who is convinced of his innocence. The story of how the father provokes first the son of the man who prosecuted the case and then the prosecutor himself to reopen and re-examine the mystery is a narrative at once wise in the ways of human behavior and rich in the dramatization of philosophical concerns.

Mrs Sartoris

Elke Schmitter - 2000
    After being jilted by a rich boyfriend, Margaret, eighteen and heartbroken, throws herself into a comfortable but stifling marriage to Ernst, a war veteran with a penchant for routine and order, who still lives with his mother in a small German village.It's not a bad life, considering Margaret's psychological scars, but neither Ernst's adoration nor the birth of a daughter can reawaken her frozen emotions. Until she slides into an affair with a married man with whom she plans to run away. Her plan is a fantasy that cannot possibly come true. Its repercussions nevertheless will explode with unimaginable force in these astonished lives.

Käsebier Takes Berlin

Gabriele Tergit - 1931
    A literal combination of the German words for “cheese” and “beer,” it’s an unglamorous name for an unglamorous man — a small-time crooner who performs nightly on a shabby stage for laborers, secretaries, and shopkeepers. Until the press shows up.In the blink of an eye, this everyman is made a star: a star who can sing songs for a troubled time. Margot Weissmann, the arts patron, hosts champagne breakfasts for Käsebier; Muschler the banker builds a theater in his honor; Willi Frächter, a parvenu writer, makes a mint off Käsebier-themed business ventures and books. All the while, the journalists who catapulted Käsebier to fame watch the monstrous media machine churn in amazement—and are aghast at the demons they have unleashed.In Käsebier Takes Berlin, the journalist Gabriele Tergit penned a searing satire of the excesses and follies of the Weimar Republic. Chronicling a country on the brink of fascism and a press on the edge of collapse, Tergit’s novel caused a sensation when it was published in 1931. As witty as Kurt Tucholsky and as trenchant as Karl Kraus, Tergit portrays a world too entranced by fireworks to notice its smoldering edges.