By Matthias Politycki
Translated by Anthea Bell
Published by Pereine Press
Next World Novella, the English translation of the German Jenseitsnovelle by Matthias Politycki, is the fourth title published by Pereine Press, which specialises in contemporary European literature.
Hinrich Schepp wakes up one morning to find his wife Doro sitting at the desk. He thinks that she must have fallen asleep while editing one of his writings but as he gets nearer to her slumped figure, he realises that she is dead.
Not wanting to let her go so quickly, he decides to read the last comments she wrote – her last words to him – while she’s still there with him. During the following hours he will experience a spectrum of emotions – tenderness, anger, forgiveness, astonishment – as he re-reads through Marek the Drunkard, his only attempt at novel-writing.
Far from being simple comments on his style, what he finds on the margins is his wife’s account of their marriage. Years of a life shared misunderstanding after misunderstanding, disappointment after disappointment. And secret after secret.
True the publisher’s motto, this short novella can be read in two hours. Personally, however, I chose to read it over three or four days to be able to better savour the choice of words and appreciate every single detail of this delicate story about the fleeting nature of life and the intricacies of relationships.
And then, as you reach the last few pages and are starting to draw your conclusions, Politycki will surprise you and will make you want to start reading everything from the beginning.
Under 200 pages and so much food for thought!