Robert Seethaler’s “A Whole Life” translated by Charlotte Collins

One of the most beautiful books I read in 2016 was German writer Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life translated by Charlotte Collins. It is a delicate story about loneliness, solitude, relationships from a masculine gaze so elegantly old. In June 2017 Charlotte Collins won the 2017 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translation Prize. Here is her acceptance speech where she rightly points out that the book is able to show beautifully that death is a part of life.  “Life is one moment after another. They might be big moments or small moments but everyone is precious. And I hope what I have achieved in this translation is that joy in life, the extraordinariness of any ordinary life, any moment in that life. What we have to do is in life live each moment, observe each moment and cherish each moment.”

Here is a lovely passage from the book:

Death belonged to life like mould to bread. Death was a fever. It was hunger. It was a crack in the wall of the barrack and the winter wind whistling through. 

Robert Seethaler A Whole Life Picador, 2016

2 July 2017 

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