One of the loveliest riddles of Austrian literature is finally available in English translation: Gert Jonke’s 1982 novel, Awakening to the Great Sleep War, is an expedition through a world in constant nervous motion, where reality is rapidly fraying—flags refuse to stick to their poles, lids sidle off of their pots, tram tracks shake their stops away like fleas, and books abandon libraries in droves. Our cicerone on this journey through the possible (and impossible) is an “acoustical decorator” by the name of Burgmüller—a poetical gentleman, the lover of three women, able to communicate with birds, and at least as philosophically minded as his author: “Everything has suddenly become so transparent that one can’t see through anything anymore.” This enormously comic—and equally melancholic—tale is perhaps Jonke’s masterwork.
Translated by Jean M. Snook
Publication: German & Austrian Literature Series
Format: Paperback / softback
Number of pages: 224
List price: $15.00