Next world novella by Matthias Politycki
Translator – Anthea Bell
Matthias Politycki is one of the most succesful German writers of recent years having published twenty novels and some poetry collections .Shocking this is his first book in English !!.born in Karlsruhe he has won numerous awards ,recently on board ship as a writer in residence on a cruise ship .he is also a huge real ale fan .
Now I quickly tweet with Matthias last year when the book came out I then read the book,but got stuck on reviewing it always intending to get round to it but some how it fell from my review pile ,then when the IFFP longlist was announce I remembered I need to review it .Well my main problem first time round was how to describe the book but like every good book coming back and glancing through it months later you go oh yes and oh that .So what is next world novella about it is a story of a couple on is alive the other has just died although you could say in hind sight she maybe died before that .the couple Hinrich schepp a sinologist ,now we discover he recently had an eye operation and as his sight improved his eyes reopened on the world .Doro his wife another academic working on manuscripts .She is the one that has died and now we Hinrich who has found her looking through this manuscript .
Schepp almost reached towards the manuscript to put it some where dry then only to embrace Doro ,warm her perhaps put her to bed .
this manuscript will change his life .
Well as he reads he sees something different the notes his wife had been writing in the margins form another story that as it unfolds he sees it is his story ,his wife knew what he was up too (don’t they always my Amanda knows me better than me ) .This shocks him there in later middle life .He had an affair with a younger women a waitress in a bar he went to after his eye operation .This man like Hinrich has had bright hopes but hasn’t seen them through and it turns out the Doro an equally talent women gave up her chances academic stardom to be with Hinrich .
As you see this is a book where the point of view shifts what was real at the time wasn’t what is thought hidden wasn’t and Hinrch had missed it all but I must admit as a man we do sometimes miss simple things(although I ve never had an affair I tend to miss things I done that upset Amanda don’t we all ?) .I think that is why I struggled to review this first off although Hinrich life isn’t like mine at all I can see faults he has and faults .I maybe found that hard to deal with first off sign of a good book .This book also has a number of motifs a painting of a lake and the after life as Doro was obsessed with the afterlife when she was alive maybe she is living it via Hinrich reading .I was also reminded of the film Last year in Marianbad a bit that film is about a man who thinks he met a women the summer before but the women says she hasn’t that is a bit like the fact that Hinrich saw his life one way but in Doro’s eyes it was different This book would make A great book for a male book group and might I say as I know Matthias like his ale this would be on to discuss and have a drink other at the same time .I’m pleased this of all the year of man Peirene press books made the longlist of IFFP .A very gentle translation of a book that is subtle and clever by the wonderful Anthea Bell .
Have you read this book ?