by Robert Seethaler
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Pub Date 05 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 14 Jan 2022
House of Anansi Press Inc., Anansi International
From Robert Seethaler, the International Booker Prize finalist for A Whole Life and bestselling author of The Tobacconist, comes a tale of life and death and human connection, told through the voices of those who have passed on.
The Field is the oldest part of the cemetery in Paulstadt, where some of the small town’s most outspoken residents can be found. From their graves, they tell stories. Some recall just a moment — perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one they now realize changed the course of their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved. This chorus of voices — young, old, rich, poor — builds a picture of a community, seen from below ground. The streets of the sleepy provincial town are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned, and died there.
The Field is a constellation of human lives — each one different yet connected to countless others — that shows how existence, for all its fleetingness, still has profound meaning.
PRAISE FOR ROBERT SEETHALER AND THE FIELD
“A moving study of how all lives boil down to a handful of choices, often made by others. This is a quietly profound novel made all the more beautiful by its brevity.” — Financial Times
“Seethaler paints a multi-faceted picture of a small town through the stories of the troubled souls lying in its cemetery … Carefully crafted moments of catharsis … hit you with all the force of a freight train.” — Scotsman
“If the dead were to talk among themselves, what would they discuss? Life, of course … In twenty-nine chapters of unequal length — from two words (but what words!) to twenty pages — each devoted to a person who has lived in the small town of Paulstadt since the end of the Second World War, Seethaler brings lives to life, revealing their secrets, hopes, regrets, and joys … There are premonitions. There are memories. Both can deceive. What is not deceptive, however, is the talent of Robert Seethaler.” — Le Monde
“One of those rare novels that can move you existentially, and change you.” ― SWR
“This book about a village’s dead proves that subtle literary quality and bestseller success do not have to be mutually exclusive.” ― Die Zeit
“The whole thing is so wonderfully crafted … that you literally don’t want to stop reading, that you’re sad to come to the end … What he has mastered like few other authors in German literary history is to give all his characters a profound dignity.” ― Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
PRAISE FOR ROBERT SEETHALER AND THE TOBACCONIST
“Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist is a coming-of-age story, that’s sweet, balanced between pathos and humour.” — Toronto Star
“Seethaler blends tragedy and whimsy to create a bittersweet picture of youthful ideals getting clobbered by external forces.” — Guardian
“Set at a time of lengthening shadows, this is a novel about the sparks that illuminate the dark: of wisdom, compassion, defiance, and courage. It is wry, piercing, and also, fittingly, radiant.” — Daily Mail
“Seethaler blends tragedy and whimsy to create a bittersweet picture of youthful ideals getting clobbered by external forces. The result is a little like Great Expectations, only with dachshunds and strudel.” — Observer
“Essential reading for the early years of the 21st century.” — Scotland on Sunday
“[The Tobacconist’s] portrayal of pre-war Vienna is tender and elegiac. There are echoes of Arthur Schnitzler in Franz’s feverish obsession with Anezka, Ödön von Horváth in minor characters such as the neighbouring butcher who denounces the tobacconist to the Gestapo, and Robert Musil in the texture of the city. The moment when the frail, ill Dr Freud boards the train for London is an elegy for the cultural and intellectual glory of early twentieth-century Vienna … The Tobacconist remains unwavering in its quiet, understated style and it is all the more devastating for it.” — Times Literary Supplement
“Told with a dry wit that enhances, rather than disguises, the sadness of its story, The Tobacconist is a touching miniature of an ordinary life irrevocably altered by the larger forces of history.” — Sunday Times
“Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist is a poignant, tragic look at the creeping rise of fascism in Vienna before the outbreak of the Second World War. Told with humor and pity, the novel expertly depicts how easy it is to find, and lose, one’s place in the world … [The Tobacconist] brilliantly demonstrates how even small actions can give a person meaning in the face of dire threats. — Shelf Awareness
“I enjoyed Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist. The novel sets up a tiny tobacconist’s shop in 1930s Vienna as a window on to a street, a city and a continent, all drifting into conflict.” — New Statesman
“Seethaler writes with great lightness of how reading widely and accumulating wisdom make life richer, but also more complicated.” — Der Spiegel
“Tender, quiet, gentle, poetic — a little treasure.” — Elke Heidenreich, SWR
“With this novel Robert Seethaler has created a wonderful tale of adolescence, told with great lightness and humour — but the dark rumblings of the hard times just starting in Vienna are always present in the background.” — kulturtipp
“For me, Seethaler is a great storyteller in the tradition of Polgar and Joseph Roth.” — Gerhard Polt
“With The Tobacconist, Robert Seethaler has succeeded in writing a wholly coherent, condensed coming-of-age novel. Not a word is wasted.” — Die Presse
“Robert Seethaler is a great storyteller who loves his characters, and he has a wonderful sense of the dramatic which never gets out of hand.” — 20 Minuten
“Robert Seethaler writes about all this in a way that is understated yet captivating and very poetically powerful, stylistically confident.” — Junge Welt
“The Tobacconist is a stirring, affecting, extremely multi-faceted book. It’s a coming-of-age novel, a love story, a portrait of society, and although it’s a work of fiction it reads like an important contemporary document of the darkest period in Austria’s history. All this is conveyed by Robert Seethaler with such literary lightness, precision and vivid imagery that, like the protagonist himself, the reader is inevitably swept up in the maelstrom of events.” — ORF
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Edited by Vaseem Khan and Maxim Jakubowski