by Robert Menasse
Pub Date 18 Jun 2019
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Winner of the German Book Prize, The Capital is an “omniscient, almost Balzac-ian” (Steven Erlanger, New York Times) panorama of splintered Europe.
Set on capturing the elusive inner workings of the European Union, Robert Menasse, one of Austria’s most creative thinkers, moved to the EU’s headquarters in Brussels for an enthralling, wine-soaked tour of supranational institutions. The resulting novel has become an international sensation, translated from German into more than twenty languages and deemed “the first great EU novel” (Politico).
At the heart of a cast as diverse as the union itself is Fenia Xenapoulou, a Greek Cypriot recently “promoted” to the Department of Culture, who hopes to revamp the European Commission’s image by proclaiming Auschwitz as its birthplace with the “Big Jubilee Project.” Other tragic heroes, clever schemers, and involuntary accomplices are intricately woven, revealing the absurdities—and real dangers—of a fiercely nationalistic “union.”
Mordantly funny and piercingly urgent, The Capital, the winner of Germany’s highest fiction prize, is an “elegantly written, beautifully constructed” (Die Zeit) feat of world literature.
“Like Musil in The Man Without Qualities, [Menasse] has fun with efforts to organize something grand to celebrate an anniversary, here the 50th of the European Commission's founding (he even parodies that book's opening passage).... [An] ambitious panorama that arrives amid the throes of Brexit and the Chinese Year of the Pig. Intelligent, fun, sad, insightful—an exceptional work.” - Kirkus Reviews [starred review]
“A thoroughly entertaining fiction that serves both as a sort of campus satire and a novel of ideas.... With its zest, pace and wit, Jamie Bulloch’s translation serves him [Menasse] splendidly.” - Boyd Tonkin, The Spectator