160 scholarly books by Seagull Books and 6
start with I
Wolfgang Hilbig Seagull Books, 2019 Library of Congress PT2668.I323I2513 2015
The perfect book for paranoid times, “I” introduces us to W, a mere hanger-on in East Berlin’s postmodern underground literary scene. All is not as it appears, though, as W is actually a Stasi informant who reports to the mercurial David Bowie look-alike Major Feuerbach. But are political secrets all that W is seeking in the underground labyrinth of Berlin? In fact, what W really desires are his own lost memories, the self undone by surveillance: his "I."
First published in Germany in 1993 and hailed as an instant classic, “I” is a black comedy about state power and the seductions of surveillance. Its penetrating vision seems especially relevant today in our world of cameras on every train, bus, and corner. This is an engrossing read, available now for the first time in English.
“[Hilbig writes as] Edgar Allan Poe could have written if he had been born in Communist East Germany.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
I enjoyed success too early, married the wrong man, and hung out with the wrong people; too many men have liked me, and I’ve liked too many men.
Frank and refreshing, Brigitte Reimann’s collected diaries provide a candid account of life in socialist Germany. With an upbeat tempo and amusing tone, I Have No Regrets contains detailed accounts of the author’s love affairs, daily life, writing, and reflections. Like the heroines in her stories, Reimann was impetuous and outspoken, addressing issues and sensibilities otherwise repressed in the era of the German Democratic Republic. She followed the state’s call for artists to leave their ivory towers and engage with the people, moving to the new town of Hoyerswerda to work part-time at a nearby industrial plant and run writing classes for the workers. Her diaries and letters provide a fascinating parallel to her fictional writing. By turns shocking, passionate, unflinching, and bitter—but above all life-affirming—they offer an unparalleled insight into what life was like during the first decades of the GDR.
The year is 1973. An Egyptian historian, Dr. Shukri, pursues a year of non-degree graduate studies in Moscow, the presumed heart of the socialist utopia. Through his eyes, the reader receives a guided tour of the sordid stagnation of Brezhnev-era Soviet life: intra-Soviet ethnic tensions; Russian retirees unable to afford a tin of meat; a trio of drunks splitting a bottle of vodka on the sidewalk; a Kirgiz roommate who brings his Russian girlfriend to live in his four-person dormitory room; black-marketeering Arab embassy officials; liberated but insecure Russian women; and Arab students’ debates about the geographically distant October 1973 War. Shukri records all this in the same numbly factual style familiar to fans of Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell, punctuating it with the only redeeming sources of beauty available: classical music LPs, newly acquired Russian vocabulary, achingly beautiful women, and strong Georgian tea.
Based on Ibrahim’s own experience studying at the All-Russian Institute of Cinematography in Moscow from 1971 to 1973, Ice offers a powerful exploration of Arab confusion, Soviet dysfunction, and the fragility of leftist revolutionary ideals.
in field latin
Lutz Seiler Seagull Books, 2016 Library of Congress PT2681+
Lutz Seiler grew up in the former East Germany and has lived most of his life outside Berlin. His poems, not surprisingly, are works of the border, the in-between, and the provincial, marked by whispers, weather, time’s relentless passing, the dead and their ghosts. It is a contemporary poetry of landscape, fully aware of its literary and non-literary forebears, a walker’s view of the place Seiler lives, anchored by close, unhurried attention to particulars. With his precise, memorable language—rendered here in compelling English—Seiler has pulled off a difficult feat: recontextualizing and radically personalizing the long tradition of German nature writing for the twenty-first century.
In the Congo
Urs Widmer Seagull Books, 2015 Library of Congress PT2685.I24
Kuno, a male nurse in a Swiss retirement home, has a new inmate: his father. In the confines of their new home, the pair does something surprising—they finally begin to talk. Kuno had always regarded his father as a boring man without a history or a destiny, until they are thrust together and he learns that his father risked his life in the war. Stunned, Kuno embarks on a journey into his own psyche, taking him to the depths of the Congo. Here, longings awaken and dreams come true—rays of light in the darkness, meetings with kings, seductive women, and the songs of the jungle. This alluring far-away place he once regarded as the heart of darkness suddenly becomes an exciting locale of lunacy, wildness, and tests of inner strength.
In Urs Widmer’s characteristic style, In the Congo is a riveting yarn, threading through not only the relationship between a father and son, but that of Africa and Europe. Translated by Donal McLaughlin, this novel will delight Widmer fans the world over and will turn our notions of colonialism on their heads.
Using the same musical sense of language she applies to her translations, Nancy Naomi Carlson masterfully interprets herself in An Infusion of Violets. The sometimes erotic, sometimes melancholy landscapes she creates as the self-appointed sitar’s “ragged throat, pitched / between here and when, / caught in quartertones,” take our breath away. Carlson describes an interior world where tears can produce “so much salt a body floats away,” where “music tuned to loss descends with rain,” and where hope is placed in the “kill-cure.” Here we encounter Carlson’s ex-husbands and luminaries such as Rachmaninoff and Monet, among others. Filled with striking images and sensuous language, An Infusion of Violets is an evocative mix of formal and free-verse poems.