Reading the World: The Pine Islands
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Wednesday, February 3 7 PM EST
A bad dream leads to a strange poetic pilgrimage through Japan in this playful and profound Booker International-shortlisted novel.
Gilbert Silvester, eminent scholar of beard fashions in film, wakes up one day from a dream that his wife has cheated on him. Certain the dream is a message, and unable to even look at her, he flees - immediately, irrationally, inexplicably - for Japan. In Tokyo he discovers the travel writings of the great Japanese poet Basho. Keen to cure his malaise, he decides to find solace in nature the way Basho did. Suddenly, from Gilbert's directionless crisis there emerges a purpose: a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the poet to see the moon rise over the pine islands of Matsushima. Although, of course, unlike the great poet, he will take a train. Along the way he falls into step with another pilgrim: Yosa, a young Japanese student clutching a copy of The Complete Manual of Suicide . Together, Gilbert and Yosa travel across Basho's disappearing Japan, one in search of his perfect ending and the other a new beginning. Serene, playful, and profound, The Pine Islands is a story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way.
Miraculous ... Poschmann has all the air of uncovered greatness - John Self, Guardian
A remarkably tender exploration of modern life ... Poschmann reveals the still beauty to be found in life beneath a mask of black humour.
- Mia Colleran, Irish Times
A blackly funny novel, in which the rhythms of modern life slowly give way to the restorative poetry of the natural world. - Claire Allfree, Daily Mail
Marion Poschmann was born in Essen in 1969. Recognized as one of Germany's foremost poets and novelists, she has won both of Germany's premier poetry prizes. She is the author of four novels, the last three of which have been nominated for the German Book Prize, and she won the prestigious Wilhelm Raabe Literature Prize in 2013. The Pine Islands is her first novel to be translated into English. She currently lives in Berlin.
Jen Calleja is a writer, musician, and literary translator. She has translated works by Wim Wenders, Gregor Hens, Kerstin Hensel, and Michelle Steinbeck, and her translations have been featured in The New Yorker and The White Review, among others. She was the inaugural Translator in Residence at the British Library, and her reviews, articles, interviews, and essays have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Modern Poetry in Translation, Brixton Review of Books, New Books in German, and elsewhere. Her first poetry collection, Serious Justice, was published by Test Centre in 2016. She currently lives in London.
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