An Inventory of Losses
Judith Schalansky, Jackie Smith
A dazzling cabinet of curiosities from one of Europe’s most acclaimed and inventive writers.
Judith Schalansky’s strange and wonderful new book, recalling writers as different as W.G. Sebald and Christa Wolf, Joan Didion and Rebecca Solnit, sees her return to the territory she explored so successfully with her best-selling ATLAS OF REMOTE ISLANDS: FIFTY ISLANDS I HAVE NEVER SET FOOT ON AND NEVER WILL, which Robert MacFarlane called “utterly exquisite” (Guardian) and about which Time Out’s reviewer said “Rarely has armchair travel been so farflung and romantic”.
Judith Schalansky is a wholly original writer whose books articulate perfectly what she wishes to say. Each of the pieces, following the conventions of a different genre, considers something that is irretrievably lost to the world, including the paradisal pacific island of Tuanaki, the Caspian Tiger, the Villa Sacchetti in Rome, Sappho’s love poems, Greta Garbo’s fading beauty, a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, and the former East Germany’s Palace of the Republic.
As a child of the former East Germany, it’s not surprising that the dominant emotion in Schalansky’s work should be “loss” and its aftermath, but what is extraordinary is the thoroughly engaging mixture of intellectual curiosity, down-to-earth grasp of life’s pitiless vitality, ironic humour, stylistic elegance and intensity of feeling that combine to make this book a masterpiece and one of the most original and beautifully designed books to be published in 2020.
Translated from the German by Jackie Smith
A cabinet of curiosities that can be dipped into with pleasure and profit -- Rupert Christiansen * Daily Telegraph * With this collection of illuminating meditations on fact and fiction, Schalansky cements her reputation as a peerless chronicler of the fabulous, the faraway, and the forgotten * Publishers Weekly * Pure gold storytelling -- Sjon Weaving fiction, autobiography and history, this sumptuous collection of texts offers meditations on "the diverse phenomena of decomposition and destruction" -- Angel Gurria-Quintana * Financial Times "Books of the Year" * The collection often reads like a disguised and rather ingenious form of memoir, in which vanished landmarks act as foils for the author's own excavations of lost time . . . with a crackling vigour that is well served by Jackie Smith's supple translation . . . Schalansky is at her strongest when she has least need to compromise. But there is no doubt that at these times, her work is very strong indeed. -- Lorien Kite * Financial Times * Schalansky's meticulously researched stories are poignant reminders of the extent of our impact on the natural world and a call to honor the animals, objects, and places that, due to our own negligence, have ceased to exist * Kirkus Review * Twelve fictional essays comprise this stunning work depicting animals, places, objects, and buildings that are lost forever. [...] In this smooth and expert translation, internationally best-selling author Schalansky (The Giraffe's Neck) illuminates these "lost" inventoried gems with thorough research and details, making us ponder their transitory quality * Library Journal * A collection of twelve pieces, some essays, some short fiction, some pitched in between, on various things that have been lost . . . most stimulating -- David Mills * The Sunday Times * A fine example of everyone's favourite genre: the genre-defying book, inspired by history, filtered through imagination and finished with a jeweller's eye for detail. -- John Self * Guardian * As we deal with the consequences, emotional and material, of a pandemic, it is hard to imagine a better guide to the resources of hope than Schalansky's deeply engaging inventory -- Michael Cronin * Irish Times * This genre-defying catalog of things that no longer exist takes on a variety of styles, from researched histories to richly imagined narratives. A vanished island, the Caspian tiger, Sappho's lost poems: Each gives rise to a fascinating study of disappearance. * New York Times *
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