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Timur Vermes’s brilliant new satire, LOOK WHO’S BACK – with the stunningly original premise of Adolf Hitler waking up in Berlin in 2011, finding himself in a work of reality television and female presidents – has already been attracting attention in the British media ahead of its publication next week.
We’re delighted to announce that Timur is coming to the UK for publication, and if you’re based in England you’ll have several chances to see him discuss the book. Timur is as intelligent and entertaining as you would expect, and the chance to hear him explain his thoughts on this controversial masterpiece is not to be missed.
Firstly, on Monday 31st March, Timur will be speaking over dinner at Hardy’s, a restaurant in Marylebone. Tickets are £35, and include a bespoke German menu, including Wiener Schnitzel and Trout mit Riesling. Full menu and booking information are here, the restaurant is close to Baker Street and Bond Street stations.
On Tuesday 1st April Timur travels west for the Bristol Festival of Ideas. He will be appearing in conversation with Andrew Kelly, with an opportunity for questions from the audience, and tickets are available here for just £4.
And finally Thursday 3rd April sees Timur back in London for the book’s launch, at Waterstones London Wall. Tickets cost only £3, which entitles you to a free glass of wine and money off the book, and can be booked by calling 02076289708.
And if you can’t make it to any of those events, signed copies of the book will be available at the following shops:
Foyles Charing Cross, Goldsboro Books, Waterstones Bristol, Toppings Bath, Mr B’s, Waterstones Piccadilly and Waterstones London Wall.
LOOK WHO’S BACK
Timur Vermes, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch
Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.
People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.
LOOK WHO’S BACK stunned and then thrilled 1.5 million German readers with its fearless approach to the most taboo of subjects. Naive yet insightful, repellent yet strangely sympathetic, the revived Hitler unquestionably has a spring in his step.
Amazon | Waterstones | MacLehose Press | The Hive
[Note, some online vendors are listing the book as out of stock following higher than expected pre-orders - if you're having problems please try another link!]
German publishing sensation Er Ist Wieder Da (working title: Look Who’s Back) continues to make headlines around the world ahead of its April 2014 publication by MacLehose press.
This week alone Timur Vermes’ black satire, in which Adolf Hitler wakes up, confused but very much alive, in contemporary Berlin, has been featured in the Guardian and the Telegraph , which praised the “pitch-black prose” and “relentlessly dark” humour of Vermes’ debut novel.
Er Ist Wieder Da has sold over 400,000 copies in Germany, stubbornly refusing to shift from the top of the bestseller charts and kindling furious debate in the German media about the book’s taste – though no-one denies its hilarity.
Once Hitler works out where, and when, he is, he sets about trying to understand this strange new Germany, with its Turkish newspapers and its media executives, and in doing so unwittingly becomes an “ironic” Youtube sensation, critically-lauded “impersonator”, a TV personality, and someone whose opinion is listened to.
Er Ist Wieder Da: Springtime 2014 is for Hitler. . .
MacLehose Press was hit by some cripplingly exciting news at the tail-end of last week. We are thrilled to have not one, but two whole, glorious books on the long-list for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2015.
The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize – as I’m sure you know – honours the best work of fiction by a living author that has been translated into English from any other language. It also equally recognises the achievement of both writer and translator, which is rather wonderful and a neat response to anyone who thinks literary translation is just a matter of sticking the book through Google translate. Previous winners include Orhan Pamuk and W. G. Sebald – not to mention our very own Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel – so it’s rather a big deal, and we are immensely proud of our two long-listed titles: the gorgeous, poetic Bloodlines, by Marcello Fois, translated from the Italian by Silvester Mazzarella, and the sublimely funny Look Who’s Back, by Timur Vermes, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.
The judges comments were as follows:
Judge Antonia Lloyd-Jones on Bloodlines:
“This beautiful novel depicts a Sardinian family over two generations, struggling with adversity brought not just by history but by life and fate. The flawless translation retains a lyrical tone that takes us into a world apart, reflecting the isolation and intensity of living on an island. Despite all, the human spirit wins out in this brave and timeless saga.”
Judge Richard Mansell on Look Who’s Back:
“What would Hitler make of modern Germany, and what would it make of him? When he wakes up in 2011, in full uniform and doused in petrol, he is horrified and compelled to act, but he is taken for an impersonator who cannot break with character. Laughs abound as this excellently crafted satire turns a horrific figure into an object of comedy.”
In further joyous news for everyone at Quercus, Daniel Kehlmann’s F was also included on the long-list. This has been a particularly strong year for German literature – a third of the fifteen novels on the long-list are German translations – and a number of them, including Look Who’s Back and F are doing much to challenge lingering lazy stereotypes about Germans not having a sense of humour by being very funny indeed.
Massive congratulations to everyone on the IFFP long-list, and if anyone is stuck for something to read this week, you could do a lot worse than taking inspiration from this assortment of the very best of translated fiction.
With award season in full swing for most other art forms, translated fiction proved to be no exception as last night saw the Society of Authors’ Translation Prizes at Europe House. There were no wardrobe malfunctions, or red carpet tantrums – that we noticed – and everyone stayed impressively upright throughout, (Madonna take note), but we are very pleased to announce that the John Florio Prize was posthumously awarded to Patrick Creagh for his translation of Memory of the Abyss, by Marcello Fois, and Nick Caistor was awarded the Premio Valle Inclán for his translation of An Englishman in Madrid, by Eduardo Mendoza. In further exciting news, Cristini Viti was commended for the John Florio Prize for her translation of A Life Apart by Mariapia Veladiano.
Marcello Fois’ Memory of the Abyss covers twenty-five years of Italian history and is the fictionalised life story of Sardinian bandit Samuele Stochino. It is a stirring fusion of myth, history and fiction; a daring re-imagining of a true story, and a deft excavation of Sardinian cultural roots by one of Italy’s most gifted and celebrated writers.
Memory of the Abyss is notable for the stylistic variety of its narration and the judges of the John Florio Prize were particularly impressed by Patrick Creagh’s ability to retain this complexity in his translation, whilst producing a fluid narrative in English.
In commending Cristina Viti’s translation of Mariapia Veladiano’s A Life Apart, the judges noted that the novel “renders eloquently the poetic style and subtle variations of register of Veladiano’s fable about a child whose musical talent allows her to overcome the trauma of having been rejected by her mother because of her physical ugliness. This psychological novel demanded a translation capable of reproducing the subtle explorations and associations of the original text whilst maintaining the rhythm of the prose style – Cristina Viti gives us a narrative in English which is as sophisticated and versatile as its Italian antecedent.”
Nick Caistor’s translation of An Englishman in Madrid was pronounced “splendid” by the judges of The Premio Valle Inclán, who said that “Mendoza’s comic novel presents an English art historian all at sea politically and personally in Spain on the eve of the Civil War. Nick Caistor’s splendid translation captures every nuance of this vibrant work. The novel’s tone is strangely light, well-controlled and surprisingly farcical. It’s actually original to take an event like the Spanish Civil War and not treat it seriously. This excellent and exact translation conveys the essence of this novel.”
We are delighted that a number of our other translators were also recognised. Jamie Bulloch, whose MacLehose Press titles include Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes and Forever Yours by Daniel Glattauer, was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke (Peirene Press), with the judges noting that the translation “displays real inventiveness, especially in its use of idiom, precisely and impressively capturing the tone of this sly, subtle and unnerving text.”
Anthea Bell, who has previously won the Schlegel-Tieck Prize four times, and translated Norbert Gstrein’s Winters in the South for MacLehose Press in 2012, was commended for her translation of In Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge (Faber & Faber). The judges stated that “her efforts turn the book into a wonderful and heart-rending reading experience.”
Finally, Margaret Jull Costa, whose MacLehose Press translations include The Spies by Luís Fernando Veríssimo and The Sickness by Alberto Barrera Tyszka, was commended for the Premio Valle Inclán for her translation of The Infatuations by Javier Marías (Penguin). In awarding her commendation, the judges observed that “the elegant translation meets all the demands of a novel that offers an absorbing plot mapped out in complex and challenging literary form.”
A hearty congratulations to all winners and runners-up – a full list of whom may be found here – and many thanks to The Society of Authors for all their efforts in organising the awards.
We’re proud to announce that the marketing campaign for Look Who’s Back has been honoured at the Book Marketing Society Awards, winning the Shoestring Campaign for January to April.
The judges praised the humour of the campaign, particular the much-loved slogan “He’s back and he’s Führious” and our rather outlandish review quotes . . .
They also commended the sensitivity with which such a difficult subject was handled, and the way in which we worked to create excitement amongst bookshops, particularly through innovative mail-outs and window displays.
We’d also love to extend our congratulations to the other winners on the night: Cornerstone for their James Patterson campaign, and Usbourne for Model Under Cover by Carina Axelsson.
Below are some images of the campaign, and we’d especially like to thank the brilliant Quercus/MacLehose marketing department – specifically Ella Pocock, Bethan Ferguson, Claire Morrison and Caroline Butler – and above all Timur Vermes and his translator Jamie Bulloch, without whom none of this would have happened.
With a week to go until publication, our Associate Publisher Katharina Bielenberg describes the extraordinary history of THE TRUTH ABOUT THE HARRY QUEBERT AFFAIR.
[This article was originally published in New Books Magazine; visit them online at http://www.newbooksmag.com]
While we are conscious that a work of brilliance and originality may slip through our fingers, we also ask ourselves whether our readers will be receptive to these or those aspects of another culture. And yet that is precisely what publishers of translations set out to do: to bring difference, to open eyes and minds, and at best to build bridges of understanding. Should not our reading reflect the increasingly diverse environments in which we live? To help us make these decisions at MacLehose Press, we listen to a trusted network of readers when we cannot read the language ourselves, as well as like-minded publishers abroad. This can often take time. The experience of acquiring The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Swiss-French writer Joël Dicker was quite different, however.
In September 2012, reports from in-house readers of the French edition, which had just been published and was being serially shortlisted for all the prizes of the season, were exuberant; they spoke of a book to be “devoured”, one that would “turn everything you previously thought on its head”. They marvelled at the skill and complexity, but also at the sheer readability of a book that “takes you, often at breakneck speed, in directions you do not suspect”. Publisher Christopher MacLehose swiftly made an offer, a few weeks before the Frankfurt bookfair at which a veritable stampede of publishers would bid for the rights to translate the book into thirty-five other languages.
There was a great deal that made The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair stand out: it had been written in French, but was set in New Hampshire and read like an American novel, even a “Great American Novel”. Its many strands made it all but unclassifiable: the mystery of the disappearance in 1975 of a young girl, Nola Kellergan, whose body is discovered thirty-three years later; the story of a young writer, Marcus Goldman, and his mentor, Harry Quebert; the love story of Nola and Harry, who now becomes the prime suspect; a crime story, as Marcus seeks to clear his friend’s name, and woven through all of this, a comedy about authorship and publishing.
So, a compelling and accessible book that appeals to, well, anybody, and one that was certain to work in English. Sam Taylor, the book’s translator, said of his part, “As I read the novel in French, it seemed to unfurl magically in English inside my head. Everything about it ‒ not only the setting, but the sentence structures, the narrative voice ‒ seemed more American-English than French to me. In terms of translation it was a very simple and natural process. I didn’t really have to think about it at all: the voice just seemed to be there.”
Colleagues and booksellers who read early proofs became immediately gripped by the story, and felt that Dicker’s book would be recommended, handed on and talked about for years and decades to come. Film production companies in Hollywood and elsewhere began to make their bids, the outcome of which is still not decided. As Harry Quebert says to his protégé, “A good book, Marcus, is a book you are sorry to have finished.” In the case of The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair I couldn’t agree more – I envy those of you who have the pleasure before you.
Katharina Bielenberg is Associate Publisher at MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus Publishing
August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.
That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that made him a household name. Quebert is the only suspect.
Marcus Goldman – Quebert’s most gifted protégé – throws off his writer’s block to clear his mentor’s name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of ‘The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America’.
But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.
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This week we’ve been delighted to host Timur Vermes, author of LOOK WHO’S BACK, as he’s toured Great Britain and Ireland to talk about his quite wonderful new book.
The first stop was a literary dinner in Hardy’s restaurant in London, where Timur and his translator, Jamie Bulloch, read from the novel, as well as discussing it with acclaimed documentary film-maker Rex Bloomstein.
Then (via the Newsnight studio) it was off on the road to Bath, Bristol and Dublin, where Timur signed books and performed at the Bristol Festival of Ideas
And then it was back to London, for the book’s launch at Waterstones London Wall.
And along the way, several bookshops showed their support, notably Foyles and Blackwell’s in Oxford.
Huge thanks to everyone who made the tour happen (particularly Corinna Zifko, our magnificent publicist), and we hope you all enjoy the book!
It’s now just three weeks to go until the release of LOOK WHO’S BACK by Timur Vermes – the most exciting novel of the year (and definitely the most exciting cover!).
We’ve put early copies into the hands of booksellers across the country, and the response has been brilliant, but we just didn’t think that was fair on everyone else. So, for a chance to win one of ten precious early copies of the book, simply enter the competition below!
And if you needed further persuasion, check out this feedback from bookseller Ian Farnell:
“…the idea of using Hitler to satirise modern standards is unique, unorthodox and astounding. The jokes were hilarious, and a great range of jokes from simple misunderstandings (Hitler mistaking “posters and flyers” to be a Luftwaffe reference) to downright farce (Hitler trying to get his head round email). The book also became increasingly more plausible and chilling - the scene where his TV station colleagues joined in with the shouting of Sieg Heil was pretty horrifying, adding further to the satire but sending a few chills down the spine.”
Need we say more?
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Wonderful article in BookBrunch yesterday on Timur Vermes’s “audacious German bestseller” Look Who’s Back:
In mid-January, a somewhat unusual email popped up in the inboxes of book trade people across Britain. My Volk, it began,
In 2011, I found myself alive and well in Berlin with no Reich Chancellery and no Führerbunker. The city which now lay before me was quite different from the one I remembered from 1945, yet I was, more or less, the same – once I got everything back to the way it should be.
As luck would have it I met some television executives, including my soon-to-be right-hand man Sawatzki, and the rest – as they say – is history. I now have my own television show, which is a ratings hit. Important moments in history must be recorded for posterity; to that end I have compiled my astute observations in a book which I have called Look Who’s Back. I am not too modest to say it has been a phenomenal success in the Fatherland. Now it is your turn to show me what you can do. Make me proud!
There was a PS directing readers to a video.
It is of course all part of the campaign for Timur Vermes’ audacious debut novel Look Who’s Back, which made news back last year when Katharina Bielenberg acquired it for MacLehose Press. In Germany, where Hitler is (let’s say) a particularly sensitive subject, the review pages were a little slow off the mark, but they were quick to pick up when word-of-mouth propelled the novel into the bestseller lists.
We’re publishing Look Who’s Back here in the UK on the 3rd April! Can’t wait? Neither can we!
(Whole article is over at BookBrunch, but you’ll need to subscribe!)
Happy New Year from all of us. Whether you spend it looking who’s back, learning the truth about Harry Quebert, hearing news from Berlin or wallowing in the Library of Unrequited Love, we hope you have a wonderful 2014!