Next World Novella
Next World Novella
Listed for The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012
Guardian Paperback Choice of the Year 2011
The Independent Books of the Year 2011
120pp, paperback with flaps,
English World Rights
Peirene Press Ltd.
– Hoffmann und Campe Verlag, 14. September 2009
Opening pages 7– 16 of German edition
If only it hadn’t been for that smell! As if Doro had forgotten to change the water for the flowers, as if their stems had begun to rot overnight, filling the air with the sweet-sour aroma of decay. Schepp noticed it at once, that subtle sense of something Other in the midst of ordinary life, slightly skewing the morning. From the far end of his room autumn sunlight came flooding in, bathing everything in a golden or russet glow – the chaise longue in the corner was a patch of melting colour. They’d have to open a window to let all that light out later. Schepp stood there, blinking at his world gently flowing around him, a world of stucco moulding and decorative wallpaper, book-lined walls, chairs with silk covers. Checking the way his hair lay over his bald patch, stroking the back of his head, he told himself that he was a happy man.
Not least because of Doro, whose own hair, pinned up, mingled black and silver, he could see above the back of the desk chair. At one side he glimpsed the kimono she liked to wear when she sat in that chair, editing what he had written the day before. Since the children had left home, she had wanted to resume her career. That had pleased him. Not only did he go to bed late, he also got up late, so if Doro had fallen asleep over her editing, wedged at an awkward angle between the desk and the chair as she was today, he would just shake his head, because he couldn’t have put into words all that he felt.
Oddly enough, as regularly as he had found her here before, he had written almost nothing since his operation, so was there anything to be edited? I’m still dreaming, he told himself as he moved quietly across the fishbone-patterned parquet towards the sun and the desk and the big vase standing on the floor with the decaying gladioli in it, and Doro.
Before he planted a kiss on her neck, stealing up quietly like a man newly in love, a few of the little wooden segments of the parquet creaking slightly, a fly buzzing somewhere (but even that sounded familiar and homely), before he bent over Doro, to the little mole at the base of her throat that he knew so well – any minute now she would wake with a start and look askance at him, half indignant, half affectionate – he suddenly registered a stack of paper on the desk, her reading glasses, a packet of aspirins, a water glass that had been knocked over and a dark mark on the leather inlay of the desktop, with her fountain pen beside it. Once again she had forgotten to put the cap back on it. He was about to pick it up when he remembered, and no, he wasn’t dreaming any more, remembered yesterday evening and the new waitress who had given him such a long, intent smile as he was leaving the bar. Schepp was standing directly behind the chair where Doro sat so still, only the wing of the chair-back kept her from tipping over, and he smiled at this thought for a few seconds. Well, Hinrich, he said to himself, grinning at the place where he thought he detected a last reflection of the night before, you may be sixty-five but the ladies still have time for you. Then he bent over Doro. Once again the smell hit him, an entirely strange smell now, a sweetish aroma mingled with the odour of sweat and urine and – he shrank back, his mouth gaping.
How he made his way around the desk he didn’t know. He clung to it with both hands, hardly daring to look up. Doro? She sat there before him, her features relaxed, entirely at peace, her skin grey. The left-hand corner of her mouth drooped, a thread of saliva hanging from it. It had dried where it ended on her chin. Her lips were slightly open, her tongue lolled awkwardly in her mouth, looking swollen. But worst of all were her eyes, almost but not entirely closed, so that you could see the whites and a bit of the irises, as if she had pulled her lower lids down at the last moment.
I don’t understand, thought Schepp, understanding.
It’s not true, Schepp decided.
Everything will be all right again, Schepp assured himself, and at the same time he was overcome by the certainty that he was choking.
‘At least say something,’ he whispered finally. ‘Just one word.’
He wanted so much to take Doro in his arms, to hug her until she was gasping for breath and stopped playing this game. But there was nothing he could do, he saw that, he felt it, he knew it. He couldn’t even pluck up the courage to whimper; he remained immobilized, breathing as shallowly as possible.
At least it hadn’t been rotting flower stems that he had smelt when he had come into the room, he knew that now. Leaning on the desk, Schepp looked into what could still be seen of Doro’s eyes. He dared not close them. How long, he wondered, had she been sitting here dead, waiting for him? He attempted to take her pulse; he had to try several times; he feared the chill of her wrist so much that he flinched as soon as he touched it; he was sure, in any case, that there was nothing to be felt. Should he call a doctor? Oughtn’t he to call a doctor?
He stared across the parquet and into the great void; he saw himself immobilized at his mother’s deathbed because he could not bring himself to touch her in farewell, he saw himself finally, wordlessly, placing his hand on her forehead – and that immediately brought him back to the hard, oaken presence of the desk on which one of his manuscripts appeared to be lying. Obviously Doro had been editing it and, in her usual way, annotating the pages, summarizing her impressions; the top sheet was three-quarters covered with her firm handwriting. Or rather, only the first lines were written in that familiar script, then the characters visibly slipped sideways. Schepp bent closer to the page; the letters appeared very untidy, Doro would never have set them down like that, not in full possession of her senses. Soon whole words were sliding away from her; here and there the paper had absorbed water from the glass she had knocked over, and the ink had run. Schepp almost reached towards the manuscript to put it somewhere dry. Only then to embrace Doro, warm her, perhaps put her to bed and sit beside her until she awoke. But the sight of her kept him at a distance, the sight of her face frozen into a mask, alarmingly peaceful, already alarmingly unfamiliar, smooth, almost unwrinkled, surprisingly like the face of her sister, who was still under fifty, how strange. To think, reflected Schepp, trying to hide in the shelter of his hands, to think that you grow younger in death. Then his throat tightened as a great wave of misery washed over him. When he could move again, the clock on the Church of the Good Shepherd was striking eleven. He hesitantly touched Doro’s right hand and once more shrank from the cold skin and its waxen feel, like a layer of varnish. Finally he took her left arm, which had slipped off the desk, holding it by the sleeve of her kimono and carefully replacing it where he thought it belonged, beside the manuscript. Her hand was swollen and purplish-red, her forearm a shade of violet. Schepp stared at the pale pressure marks that, despite his caution, he had left on Doro’s arm. The longer he looked, the more blood seemed to flow back into it. The silence of the room closed gently around her again. Overwhelmed, Schepp breathed in the smell of death.
Finally he looked back at the stack of paper that Doro had left for him. Yes – it hit him like a sudden revelation – that was the first, the most important thing to do. He had to read those pages, find out what her last message was. How relieved he felt all at once! As if some kind of hope could be derived from that act. The idea that another action might be more appropriate, considering that he had spent half his life with the deceased, did not cross his mind.
At first it seemed as if his shaking hands were holding a long, unusually long set of editorial comments. Beneath the top sheet, where the handwritten lines soon became crooked and agitated until finally all the words were in the middle of the page, lay many other sheets, meticulously filled with Doro’s familiar handwriting. Under those was a typewritten manuscript, the first page at the bottom of the stack and untitled; only after leafing forwards and back for a while did he realize that this was a fragment he had discarded long since and far from being a serious work of scholarship. How had Doro found it, even thought it worth editing – and she had obviously been editing it for days – this old, forgotten text of his? He hadn’t concealed or destroyed it, he had just forgotten when he last had had it in his hands. The longer he thought about it, the more certain he felt that Doro had been looking for something, something else. Schepp fell into all kinds of speculations; he hardly noticed the sheets of paper slipping from his hands and falling on the patterned wood of the parquet. The throbbing in his throat grew worse and worse, and a rushing in his ears began to make him dizzy.
Once he had opened the window he felt better. He tried not to shrink from the chilly presence of Doro waiting for him on the other side of the desk, with a smell about her that would certainly have embarrassed her very much when she was alive. When you’re dead, she had once whispered in his ear before going to sleep, you can’t smell anyone any more, isn’t that sad? Schepp felt ashamed on her behalf, and whispered that there was no need for her to feel ashamed, he loved her all the same; perhaps he loved her even more for her inviolability and the stillness she radiated, had radiated even in life, had he ever told her that?
He replaced the cap on her fountain pen, righted the empty glass, retrieved the scattered sheets of paper from the floor and hesitated again, staring at the last page of Doro’s comments. They read:
… turned into its opposite, the gentle wind above, the rejoicing lake beneath. ‘It is good to cross the great water.’ But without you, Schepp, do you understand, without you. As far as I’m concerned, and now I will say it once and for all, you can go straight to Hell! Along with Hanni and Nanni and Lina and Tina and
whatever they might be called. Your
I’m sorry, my head
suddenly hurts again,
like when I
Had Doro really written that? The spaces between the words became larger and larger, the rest was illegible, or no, at the bottom of the page, on the right-hand side, there was a little more in a shaky, entirely unfamiliar hand. It took Schepp some time to decipher it.
and now this too
talk about it
Doro’s last words – how they blurred before his eyes! The pattern of the parquet – how it stretched away to the surrounding bookcases, which held his publications and special editions as well as standard works and volumes of commentaries, and on which were arranged all the things he had brought back from lecture tours and guest professorships, together with photographs of the children, Pia radiant just before her wedding, Louisa looking sulky because he never had time in the evening for anyone but his ‘silly old Chinese people’ – it was all there, but now so far removed that he saw none of it. Schepp had been left desperately alone. All he had were the sheets of paper that Doro had written for him.
But written in what kind of confusion, and by which Doro? Obviously she hadn’t been entirely in her right mind; he’d never known her to sound so out of control, so wild, so forceful. What on earth had come over her? Doro, that fragile little woman whose discretion he had always admired! He wanted to start reading at once, from the beginning – ‘As far as I’m concerned’ – no, something wrong there – ‘As far as I’m concerned, you can go straight to Hell’, and when had she ever addressed him by his surname? Was she making fun of him?
It was no good, he had to read it. Yes, maybe he ought to have let the children know first, but did a few more minutes make any difference? Yes, he ought to have called a doctor to fill out a death certificate. But which doctor should he have called, when Doro wasn’t even registered with a GP? And then it really would have been over, they’d take what was left of her away, and emptiness would move in, first into her favourite places, soon even into the most remote nooks and crannies – no! There was time enough for that in what life he had left. Gesticulating at the room, right index and little fingers extended as if in full flow, talking himself into true lecturer’s mode, Schepp strode back and forth, punching accentuated reprimands into the air with his fist, until he came to a halt by the window. And saw that life outside was still going on as usual.
He would just stand there, then, stand there until he finally fell over, or woke up, or until the world came to an end. Standing like that also meant that he didn’t have to look at Doro. What had she died of, anyway, when she had never been really sick? As if her doubts about conventional medicine had kept her healthy. Apart from two or three migraines a year, she had managed very well indeed without all the check-ups and aftercare that kept her sister happy. ‘No tumour, no heart problems,’ she had been told after a CT scan following one of her migraines. ‘Everything’s in good working order.’ These days people didn’t just drop dead at the age of fifty-six!
Although she herself used to be preoccupied with that very thing. It was how he had met her in the first place, he was then a mere Teaching Fellow whilst she was already a Lecturer in the Faculty. Out of the blue, she had told him about her fear, her great fear of the cold, dark lake whose shores you’d reach immediately after you died, only to die there a second time. Or whatever it could be called when you were already dead. He had almost let slip a stupid remark, saw the tears in her eyes just in time.
So now it’s happened, thought Schepp, now she really has gone to the place she’s dreaded all her life. And what about me? I promised to hold her hand there, and I’ve failed her. Had she already reached the lake? Was she standing on the shore scanning the water for an island, the island that, during their life together, he had hoped she would find there? Perhaps she had already taken her first steps into the water, bravely, without any fuss, in her usual way. Perhaps she was swimming with calm and steady strokes towards a second death? No, no, Schepp was sure that whatever Doro was doing on the other side, at least she wasn’t doing that; she had always promised not to.
A compelling love story – and, at the same time, its worst nightmare
A day with no mercy between man and woman: in a densely composed novella, Matthias Politycki tells us of the joys and miseries of love – and how death can shake all its certainties. A journey to the abysses of loyalty and betrayal, the tragedy of a middle-class love in our times.
Ever since his younger days, the promise held out by women had been barred to Hinrich Schepp, owing to his severe short-sightedness. Now, following an eye operation, our reclusive scholar has stumbled into the world of the fully sighted and is keen to finally fathom the glorious enigma of the opposite sex. All the more so when he spots a seductive beauty at the bar in his local pub. She is kissed, and even bitten in the neck, by her female companion – to someone like Schepp, an act that is outrageously errant, yet auspicious. His life is definitively thrown off kilter when this very woman turns up again in his pub – serving the customers.
But what has all this to do with the papers left behind by his wife Doro that he finds on the desk one morning? And what about the cold, dark lake into which, according to Doro, all the newly dead must go – and where they must die for a second time?
Published in Germany by Hoffmann & Campe (Hardcover, 2009) and Goldmann Verlag (Paperback, 2011), in England by Peirene Press (2010), in France by Editions Jacqueline Chambon (2011) and in Italy by CartaCanta (2013). Rights also sold to Portugal (Estofres & Versos, 2011).
Why Peirene chose to publish this book:
“This novella deals with the weighty subjects of marriage and death, in an impressively light manner. Shifting realities evolve with a beautiful sense of irony and wit. It is a tone that allows us to reflect –without judgment – on misunderstandings, contradictory perceptions and the transience of life.” Meike Ziervogel
an absorbing portrait of a marriage breakdown
(Lucy Popescu, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk, 10/12/12)
„a little gem about loss“
(Mary Costello, The Top Titles of 2012, Irish Times, 8/12/12)
„I enjoyed it enormously. It was particularly rewarding to be taken down some dark allies but to be lead out into the sun at the end. If that makes M.P. ‚populist‘ and ‚old fashioned‘ I rejoice in both. Reminded me of Dickens.“
(Tom Alban, BBC 4, 5/12/12)
„Exquisitely translated from the German by Anthea Bell, Matthias Politycki’s novella is a literary lovesong, where the boundaries between dream and reality, between this world and the next, are constantly being rewritten.“
(Olivia Heal, http://oliviaheal.com/2012/01/15/next-world-novella-by-matthias-politycki-peirene/, 15/1/12)
„A heartbreaking tale of loss which then goes on to deliver a horse-strength kick in the face. I will say no more but to exhort you to investigate Peirene and buy the book.“
(Nick Lezard, The Guardian, 27/12/11)
„Next World Novella is awarded the Lizzy’s 2011 so-good-I-read-it-twice-award.“
(Lizzy Siddal, http://lizzysiddal.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/next-world-novella-matthias-politycki/, 19/12/11)
„Cunning and gripping (…) A vertiginous story of a life reviewed and revised with trap-door surprises that make it a good companion for Julian Barnes“
(Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, 25/11/11)
„A suspenseful (…) thought-provoking read, I wish it had been longer! In a practical sense, it made me never want to smell cut flowers again, and I certainly will make sure my pathetic short stories are password-protected.“
„This is a book that I almost found unbearably sad (…) and yet its written with such control, minimalism and understated raw emotion it’s a compelling and masterly piece of writing all in one, in fact credit must do to the translator Anthea Bell too for managing to keep all this in, all in under 140 pages. (…) I don’t think I have ever read a novel before where a dead character, unless relating the tale from heaven or some such, can take so much control of a piece of fiction or be such an impressive force and shadow over every page. As gripping as it is haunting ‘Next World Novella’ is in my mind a mini-masterpiece. I can only hope that now we have one of Politycki’s novels readily available in translation in the UK that there will be many more to follow. After all he has several other books and collections of poems that we are yet to discover here yet have sold in their hundreds of thousands in his homeland of Germany. If you are to discover one new author this year then I think Matthias Politycki would be your best bet and ‘Next World Novella’ should be added to your TBR pretty soon.“
„This is a book of contrasts, and one which is all about differing interpretations. (…) This is a clever book, short and intense, shifting in mood and tone, showing us two halves of a whole – and in more ways than one, as you’ll see if you read it. It’s a shared life sharply bisected, and a hard look at how we both see and delude ourselves to suit the reality we want to believe in.“
(Karen Howlett, http://www.cornflowerbooks.co.uk/2011/05/next-world-novella-matthias-politycki.html, 5/5/11)
„Little of the acclaimed German author Matthias Politycki’s work has appeared in English, although he has more than 20 novels and collections of poetry to his name. Next World Novella, Anthea Bell’s deft and superbly readable translation of Jenseitsnovelle, is a welcome corrective, and demonstrates just what English-speaking readers have been missing. In 140 taut, compelling pages, it tells the story of Hinrich Schepp (…). Few men will follow the unravelling of Hinrich’s self-image without a twinge of self-recognition, while the sense of loss evoked in the opening pages unfolds into a profound sadness. A metatextual playfulness breathes light and humour into this sober meditation on identity, bereavement and the possibility of an afterlife. Inventive and deeply affecting, this remarkable fiction lingers in the mind long after the last page has been turned.“
(Chris Schüler, The Independent, 26/4/11)
„A terribly impressive thing, an unrelenting look at relationships within a novella of ideas that leaves you thinking and turning the book over in your head for some time afterwards.“
(Katy Derbyshire, http://lovegermanbooks.blogspot.com/2011/03/matthias-politycki-next-world-novella.html, 31/3/11)
„Matthias Politycki’s prize-winning Jenseitsnovelle, published to acclaim in Germany in 2009, is available now in Anthea Bell’s excellent translation. An author known for his literary novels of social commentary, essays and volumes of poetry (his latest a homage to the pubs of the East End of London), he proves adept at the novella, too. (…) This is a tale of a marriage gone awry and the potential loneliness of cohabitatio (…) – but Matthias Politycki leavens his grim tale with playful teasing of his reader’s expectations.“
(Rebecca K. Morrison, Times Literary Supplement, 24/3/11)
„Politycki’s main protagonists interface only in writing and rewriting. Fact, fiction and memory seem ironically unstable. (…) Yet again [at the end] all we have are versions of events (…). Readers will not feel neutral at this point of the book. In the end, Politycki shows himself equally to be a reader’s writer. For what more could we wish for? A page-turning twister of a tale, playing with versions of reality, whilst its literary tentacles wrap us around in this fantastical and stylish twenty-first century exploration of nothing less than our own Momento Mori.“
(Vivek Tejuja, http://thehungryreader.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/book-review-next-world-novella-by-matthias-politycki/, 23/3/11)
„This is a doozy of a book. It’s intertexuality with a domestic, ceaseless swing to it. One detail cloaked in another and another and another, that one risks forgetting the truth, and even the author plays on this forgetting and manipulates it to serve his purpose. Playful and experimental without drawing too much attention to its structure, without belaboring it (…). Politycki’s novella is one of the best, most impressive, most remarkable books I have ever come across (…) – and the language, good lord, the language: it was seamless, and fluid and just right. Read the book, dammit. Yes to Next World Novella, a thousand times yes.“
(Sasha Martinez, http://silverfysh.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/next-world-novella-by-matthias-politycki/, 23/3/11)
„I can’t say enough how much this book drew me in and engrossed me from the first line. (…) So often relationships seem to break down because of a lack of communication and I think this book really highlighted in a way how that can happen, and why. (…) The ending of the slim volume really hit me unexpectedly in a rather remarkable way, though of course I can’t say anything more about it here without ruining it for you! I highly recommend this book to all“
(Amy Mckie, http://amckiereads.com/2011/03/21/review-next-world-novella-by-matthias-politycki/, 21/3/11)
„Matthias Politycki writes with a great deal of irony, a dark sort of humor which gives the novella a sense of inevitability. (…) It is unsettling. I found myself sometimes as confused as Henrich. (…) This is a highly literary, very philosophical little book which packs a big punch.“
(Caribousmom, http://www.caribousmom.com/2011/03/16/next-world-novella-book-review/, 16/3/11)
„‘Next World Novella’ is an unsettling read (…). It’s a hard book to describe, and being a short one far too easy to reveal too much plot (not that I mind spoilers but as so much of this book is a slow exposure of the inside of a marriage it seems wrong to give away to much). I will say that the end turns everything upside down again. (…) If you come across this book please read it – it’s only short and time spent on it is time very well spent.“
(Desperate Reader, http://desperatereader.blogspot.com/2011/03/next-world-novella-matthias-politycki.html, 13/3/11)
„I chose to read it over three or four days to be able to better savour the choice of words and appreciate every single detail of this delicate story about the fleeting nature of life and the intricacies of relationships. And then, as you reach the last few pages and are starting to draw your conclusions, Politycki will surprise you and will make you want to start reading everything from the beginning. Under 200 pages and so much food for thought!“
(Brighton Blogger, http://bookafterbook.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-review-next-world-novella.html, 8/3/11)
„Next World Novella will doubtlessly appeal to other readers and even if it does not, Mattias Politycki raises many thought-provoking subjects and invites a post-read meditation.“
(E.L. Fay, http://tselfoninternets.blogspot.com/2011/03/sat-and-gazed-into-eternal-process-of.html, 6/3/11)
„An extraordinarily intimate tale, and yet one that could be shared by countless couples to at least some degree. (…) Powerful, poetic and dizzyingly thought-provoking, Next World Novella is very much a novel about this world, and all the versions of it.“
(Judy Darley, http://essentialwriters.com/books-next-world-novella-m-politycki-9891.htm, 1/3/11)
„Next World Novella is a genuine page-turner, and the kind of book that you want to tell everyone about as soon as you’ve put it down.“
(Think German, http://thinkgerman.org.uk/next_world_novella, Feb. 2011)
„I loved Next World Novella. How it blends expectations of life, of death, of the next world, with the pitfalls of relationships, the willingness to love, but yet the failure that it can result in, the insight into the slight miscommunications we have in life, and the consequences they might have. There is so much packed into this short book, all told through the use of different perspectives, shifting realities, and yet never losing the thread that ties the whole story together. That is what makes this story so hard to summarize. All I can say is that I am left in awe of Politycki’s abilities as a writer.“
„An amazingly compelling read (…). Politycki takes the reader on a journey into the murky depths and undercurrents beneath the seemingly placid surface of this relationship, exploring the deceptions and self-delusions that have kept them together. (…) Next World Novella may be a short read at 138 pages but one you’ll be thinking about for a long while after.“
(Maryom, http://ourbookreviewsonline.blogspot.com/2011/02/next-world-novella-by-matthias.html, 28/2/11)
„I finished this 138-page novella in one evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. (…) There are a couple of nice twists towards the end that I won’t give away here. They contribute to the sense that this is a very carefully constructed novella (…). Still it’s a thoughtful, meditative kind of book rather than a plot-driven one. The author has a lot to say about the nature of love and relationships, and says it very effectively.“
(Andrew Blackman, http://andrewblackman.net/2011/02/next-world-novella-by-matthias-politycki/, 28/2/11)
„The beginning of Next World Novella is especially potent (…). Yet I finished the book feeling that I hadn’t quite grasped something about it, and I can’t put into words what that might be. Next World Novella is well worth a look, though.“
(David Hebblethwaite, http://davidhblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/book-notes-politycki-skloot-langford-grant/, 24/2/11)
„German author Matthias Politycki’s complex, clever and entertaining novella has been translated for the first time into English by Anthea Bell, allowing a new and wider audience to enjoy his ironic contemplation on death, marriage, misunderstanding, obsession and the transience of life. (…) Witty, perceptive and thought-provoking, Next World Novella deals with age-old themes and yet manages to be refreshingly different. Politycki handles serious subjects with a light, almost playful, touch and his delicate balancing of Hinrich and Doro’s complex relationship makes differentiating between fact and fiction an intriguing intellectual game. A teasing, testing story that makes you want to revisit and seek out those fascinating fragments you might just have missed…“
(Pam Norfolk, Pocklington Post and Lancashire Evening Post, 21/2/11)
„In this novella Politycki uses a rather ingenious set-up to explore weighty topics like marriage and death with a surprising lightness. What dialogue you might wonder is possible between a man and his wife’s fresh corpse, but the surprise is not only that there is one but that it contains wit, humour and genuine bite. (…) So please don’t hesitate: Peirene have brought another compelling narrative into English that demands to be read and talked about.“
(William Rycroft, http://justwilliamsluck.blogspot.com/2011/02/that-indecent-something-other.html, 22/2/11)
„I didn’t think I was going to like it, but as I read on I was absolutely captivated and surprised by how it turned out.“
(Verity, http://cardigangirlverity.blogspot.com/2011/02/next-world-novella_21.html, 21/2/11)
„an absorbing portrait of a marriage breakdown (…). In this elegantly realised novella, Politycki dissects a failed marriage with acute psychological insight and reminds us of how swifty a breakdown in communication can make our own and others’ existence unfathomable.“
(Lucy Popescu, The Independent on Sunday, 30/1/11)
„Politycki’s ambitious novella shows there is still life in this classic genre.“
(Elizabeth Powers, World Literature Today, march/april 2010)
„A page-turning pleasure (…) this novella has a supreme lightness of touch (…). It never feels weighed down by its own significance.“
(Rosie Goldsmith, BBC)
„An adventure in the shadow land of self encounter from which it is difficult to re-emerge.“
(Welt am Sonntag)
Anthea Bell (1936-2018) was one of most renowned British translators. She has translated numerous literary works from from French, German, Danish and Polish. She is, however, best known for her translations of the French Asterix comics. Anthea received her OBE for service to literature and literary translation in 2010.
Anthea on translating Next World Novella:
„Haunting, lyrical, wry, ironic – those are just a few of the notes struck resonantly and with great originality by Matthias Politycki in his short novel. He studies the many facets of a marriage, a close relationship apparently based on the obsession of one partner with what will become of them when they face the ‘next world’ of the title after death. But even in this world, all is not quite what it seems between husband and wife. The shifting perspectives of the novella’s emotional complexities are spellbinding.“