Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women--and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland’s most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.
A new novel of artful understatement about mortality, estrangement, and the absurdity of life from the acclaimed author of Unformed Landscape and In Strange Gardens
On a day like any other, Andreas changes his life. When a routine doctor’s visit leads to an unexpected prognosis, a great yearning takes hold of him--but who can tell if it is homesickness or wanderlust? Andreas leaves everything behind, sells his Paris apartment; cuts off all social ties; quits his teaching job; and waves goodbye to his days spent idly sitting in cafes--to look for a woman he once loved, half a lifetime ago. The monotony of days has been keeping him in check; now he hopes for a miracle and for a new beginning.
Andreas’ travels lead him back to the province of his youth, back to his hometown in Switzerland where he returns to familiar streets, where his brother still lives in their childhood home, and where Fabienne, a woman he was obsessed with in his youth, visits the same lake they once swam in together. Andreas, still consumed with longing for his lost love and blinded by the uncertainty of his future, is tormented by the question of what might have been if things had happened differently.
Peter Stamm has been praised as a “stylistic ascetic” and his prose as “distinguished by lapidary expression, telegraphic terseness, and finely tuned sensitivity” (Bookforum). In On a Day Like This, Stamm’s unobtrusive observational style allows us to journey with our antihero through his crises of banality, of living in his empty world, and the realization that life is finite--that one must live it, as long as that is possible.
Praise for Unformed Landscape:
“Sensitive and unnerving. . . . An uncommonly intimate work, one that will remind the reader of his or her own lived experience with a greater intensity than many of the books that are published right here at home.” --The New Republic Online
“If Albert Camus had lived in an age when people in remote Norwegian fishing villages had e-mail, he might have written a novel like this.”--The New Yorker
“Unformed Landscape has a refreshing purity, a lack of delusion, a lack of hype.”--Los Angeles Times
From the Hardcover edition.
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived. There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm the reader’s belief in the power of love to move mountains.
Following the publication of the widely acclaimed novel Seven Years comes a trove of stories from the Swiss master Peter Stamm. They all possess the traits that have built Stamm’s reputation: the directness of the prose, the deceptive surface simplicity of the narratives, and deep psychological insight into the existential dilemmas of contemporary life. Stamm does not waste a word, nor does he spare the reader’s feelings. These stories are a superb introduction to his work and a gift for all those who have come to regard his fiction as a precise rendering of the contemporary human psyche.
Just after World War II, a young orphan living in Naples comes under the protection of Don Gaetano, the superintendent of an apartment building. He is a generous man and is very attached to the boy, telling him about the war and the liberation of the city by the Neapolitans. He teaches him to play cards, shows him how to do odd jobs for the tenants, and even initiates him into the world of sex by sending him one evening to a widow who lives in the building. But Don Gaetano possesses another gift as well: he knows how to read people’s thoughts and guesses correctly that his young friend is haunted by the image of a girl he noticed by chance behind a window during a soccer match. Years later, when the girl returns, the orphan will need Don Gaetano’s help more than ever.
Recipient of the Independent Publishers Award for Historical Fiction (Gold Medal), the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Historical Fiction (Bronze Medal), and an honorable mention in the category of General Fiction for the Eric Hoffer Award.
Luis de Santángel, chancellor to the court and longtime friend of the lusty King Ferdinand, has had enough of the Spanish Inquisition. As the power of Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada grows, so does the brutality of the Spanish church and the suspicion and paranoia it inspires. When a dear friend’s demise brings the violence close to home, Santángel is enraged and takes retribution into his own hands. But he is from a family of conversos, and his Jewish heritage makes him an easy target. As Santángel witnesses the horrific persecution of his loved ones, he begins slowly to reconnect with the Jewish faith his family left behind. Feeding his curiosity about his past is his growing love for Judith Migdal, a clever and beautiful Jewish woman navigating the mounting tensions in Granada. While he struggles to decide what his reputation is worth and what he can sacrifice, one man offers him a chance he thought he’d lost…the chance to hope for a better world. Christopher Columbus has plans to discover a route to paradise, and only Luis de Santángel can help him.
Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.
“Women are not supposed to write; yet I write.” –Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
In 1817, at the late age of thirty-three,Marceline Desbordes, the actress and Romantic poet–the only woman counted by Paul Verlaine among his poètes maudits, or “accursed poets,” a group that included Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, and Alfred de Vigny–marries Prosper Valmore, a fellow actor who brings love and stability to her tumultuous life. Such stability is short-lived, however:When she meets Henri de Latouche, an influential man of letters, they soon begin a passionate affair. Although their tryst does not last more than a year, their relationship survives through letters and memory. It sparks inspiration in Marceline’s work and leads her to create some of the most beautiful poetry in French literature. A talented poet, a romantic woman, a passionate lover, a nurturing mother, and a child at heart, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore is rescued from obscurity through Plantagenet’s dazzling writing in this fictionalized biography. The book will include a selection of Desbordes-Valmore’s poems in the original French and in an English translation by the Pulitzer Prize--winning poet Louis Simpson.
In 1969, a young girl makes a trip from Coney Island to the swampy coastland on the rural outskirts of Helsinki, Finland. There, her death will immediately become part of local mythology, furnishing boys and girls with fodder for endless romantic imaginings. Everyone who lives near the swamp dreams about Eddie de Wire, the lost American girl. . . . For both Sandra and Doris, two lonely, dreaming girls abandoned in different ways by their parents, this myth will propel them into their coming-of-age through mischievous role-playing games of love and death, in search of hidden secrets, the mysteries of the swamp, and the truth behind Eddie’s death. The girls construct their own world, their own language, and their own rules. But playing adult games has adult consequences, and what begins as two girls just striking matches leads to an inferno that threatens to consume them and tear their friendship apart.
Crime mystery and gothic saga, social study and chronicle of the late sixties and early seventies, a portrait of the psyche of young girls on the cusp of sexual awakening, The American Girl is a bewitching glimpse of the human capacity for survival and for self-inflicted wounds. Fagerholm is a modern-day heir to the William Faulkner heritage of family tragedy, with a highly musical and literary prose style that is rich with wit and literary allusions. The American Girl will teach you the meaning of trust as you give yourself entirely to the original storytelling style of Monika Fagerholm.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Argentina to Italy, the intense, metaphysical and poetic story of a gardener in love, by Italy's most prominent writer.
"A man's life lasts as long as three horses. You have already buried the first."
Somewhere along the coastline of Italy, a man passes his days in solitude and silence, tending a garden and reading books of travel and adventure. Through these simple routines he seeks to quiet the painful memories of the past: a life on the run from Argentina's Dirty War; a young bride 'disappeared' by the military; a terrifying escape through the wilds of Patagonia.
Yet everywhere he turns, new life is pulsing, ready to awaken his senses, like the force that drives his fruit trees into bloom. People and events from the past and present migrate into patterns assigned by a metaphysical geometry. A woman of the world re-introduces him to love. An African day laborer teaches him the meaning of gratitude.
In this intense narrative, every acute observation, every nuance, becomes a means of salvation. Using a language that is both gripping and contemplative, Three Horses is an unforgettable tale.
Praise for The Sea of Memory:
"Poetic . . . charged with anger and desire."
-The New York Times Book Review
"Alluring . . . shimmeringly lyrical."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
A middle-aged man (our hero) is traveling to the heart of the Scottish Highlands to be with his young mistress (our heroine), who is twenty years his junior. Some people would call this madness, a mistake, as his visit is not entirely welcome--her boyfriend will arrive in a few days’ time. But our hero will not be swayed from his mission to seduce and win over his love. This is after all a physical desire, one he could never fight. His current state presents all the expected symptoms of love: painful impatience, shortness of breath, constricted chest, complete loss of appetite. Their rendezvous has been arranged on a main road, where the A32 crosses the S70, beside a road sign. Despite suspecting an icy reception, our hero hopes for the best.
In The Intervention of a Good Man, a comedy of mishaps and disappointments reveal, with great energy and a keen sense of derision, the oldest story in the world--one of amorous fantasy and its denial.
Elsa is dying. Her husband, Martti, and daughter Eleonoora are struggling to accept the crushing thought that they are soon to lose her. As Elsa becomes ever more fragile, Eleonoora’s childhood memories are slipping away. Meanwhile, Eleonoora’s daughter Anna spends her time pondering the fates of passersby. For her the world is full of stories. But the story that will change her forever is the one about Eeva, her mother’s nanny, whom her grandparents have been silent about for years. Eeva’s forgotten story, which Anna first learns of when she discovers an old dress of Eeva’s, is finally revealed layer by layer. The tale that unfolds is about a mother and daughter, about how memory can deceive us--and sometimes that is the most merciful thing that can happen.
During World War II Briton Marian Sutro is recruited for service in the Special Operations Executive, only to find that another secret organization wants her to infiltrate Paris to persuade a research physicist to join the Allied war effort.
Manfred, a surly mountaineer recently abandoned by his wife, rents the upstairs apartment in his home in the Dolomites to Marina, a woman from the city, and her difficult young son. Deeply suspicious by nature, especially of women, Manfred spies obsessively on Marina, in whose shortcomings as a mother he finds resonances of his own mother’s desertion of him in childhood. When Marina’s frustration over her son’s refusal to eat or sleep leads her to harm the child, Manfred steps in, and the silent power struggle between them escalates. Yet Manfred’s attraction to Marina is as powerful as his distrust. In this alternately shocking and moving novel, Cristina Comencini has created a complex, psychologically profound portrait of two damaged, vulnerable people and the painful bond that develops between them as they are drawn into each other’s worlds.
James Kelman, the Man Booker Prize–winning author of How Late It Was, How Late, tells the story of Helen--a sister, a mother, a daughter--a very ordinary young woman. Her boyfriend said she was quirky but she is much more than that. Trust, love, relationships; parents, children, lovers; death, wealth, home: these are the ordinary parts of the everyday that become extraordinary when you think of them as Helen does, each waking hour. Mo Said She Was Quirky begins on Helen’s way home from work, with the strangest of moments when a skinny, down-at-heel man crosses the road in front of her and appears to be her lost brother. What follows is an inspired and absorbing story of twenty-four hours in the life of a young woman.
Love meets technology with a dash of quirk in this collection of highly original short stories
An aspiring actress meets an Icelandic Yak farmer on a matchmaking Web site. An online forum for cancer support turns into a love triangle for an English professor, a Canadian fisherman, and an elementary school teacher living in Japan. A deer and a polar bear flirt via Skype. In The Hypothetical Girl a menagerie of characters graze and jockey, play and hook up in the online dating world with mixed and sometimes dark results. Flirting and communicating in chat rooms, through texts, e-mails, and IMs, they grope their way through a virtual maze of potential mates, falling in and out of what they think and hope may be true love.
With levity and high style, Cohen takes her readers into a world where screen and keyboard meet the heart, with consequences that range from wonderful to weird. The Hypothetical Girl captures all the mystery, misery, and magic of the eternal search for human connection.
How friendship, European literature, and a charismatic professor defy war, oppression, and the absurd
Set in 1980s South Korea amid the tremors of political revolution, I’ll Be Right There follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate, twenty-something woman, as she recounts her tragic personal history as well as those of her three intimate college friends. When Yoon receives a distressing phone call from her ex-boyfriend after eight years of separation, memories of a tumultuous youth begin to resurface, forcing her to re-live the most intense period of her life. With profound intellectual and emotional insight, she revisits the death of her beloved mother, the strong bond with her now-dying former college professor, the excitement of her first love, and the friendships forged out of a shared sense of isolation and grief.
Yoon’s formative experiences, which highlight both the fragility and force of personal connection in an era of absolute uncertainty, become immediately palpable. Shin makes the foreign and esoteric utterly familiar: her use of European literature as an interpreter of emotion and experience bridges any gaps between East and West. Love, friendship, and solitude are the same everywhere, as this book makes poignantly clear.