Isabel Fargo Cole & Rachel Kushner: Hilbig's "The Interim"

November 16, 2021, 5:00 PM

Rachel Kushner and translator Isabel Fargo Cole join us for a conversation about Wolfgang Hilbig, lust, God, statelessness, addiction, capitalism, and the writer’s place in “a century of lies.”

Attendees will receive a free, limited-edition Hilbig tote bag with a purchase of the book (while supplies last)! Mention the event and the tote in your order comments.

This program, co-presented with our friends at the Center for the Art of Translation and Two Lines press, will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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C. is a wretched grump, an anguished patron of bars, peep shows, and train stations. He is also an acclaimed East German writer. Dogged by writer’s block, remorse, and national guilt in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he leaves the monochromatic existence of the GDR for the neon excess of the West. There at least the novelty of his origins grant him easy money and minor celebrity, if also a deflating sense of complacency. With his visa set to expire and several relationships hanging in the balance, C. travels back and forth, mentally and physically, between two Germanys, contemplating diverging visions of the world and what they mean for people like him: alienated and aimless witnesses to history.

This monumental novel from one of the greatest chroniclers of postwar Germany, masterfully translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, interrogates with bitter wit and singular brilliance the detritus of twentieth-century life: addiction, consumerism, God, pay-per-view pornography, selfishness, statelessness, and above all else, the writer’s place in a “century of lies.”

Isabel Fargo Cole is a U.S.-born, Berlin-based writer and translator. Her translations include five books of Wolfgang Hilbig’s, including Old Rendering Plant, for which she received the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize. She has also been the recipient of a prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Grant, and her novel Die grüne Grenze was a finalist for the 2018 Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse.

Rachel Kushner is the author of the internationally acclaimed novels The Mars RoomThe Flamethrowers, and Telex from Cuba, as well as a book of short stories, The Strange Case of Rachel K.  Her new book, The Hard Crowd: Essays 2000-2020 was published in April 2021. She has won the Prix Médicis and been a finalist for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Folio Prize, the James Tait Black Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. She is a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and the recipient of the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her books have been translated into twenty-six languages.

Wolfgang Hilbig (1941–2007) was one of the major German writers to emerge in the postwar era. Though raised in East Germany, he proved so troublesome to the authorities that in 1985 he was granted permission to emigrate to the West. The author of more than twenty books, he received virtually all of Germany’s major literary prizes, capped by the 2002 Georg Büchner Prize, Germany’s highest literary honor.