Synopses & Reviews
Compressed, delicate, but brutally precise, S. S. Proleterka is a fiercely boiled-down bildungsroman from the presiding genius of dry-ice, Fleur Jaeggy The S. S. Proleterka is a Yugoslavian ship; our fifteen-year-old protagonist and her financially ruined, distant, yet somehow beloved father, Johannes, take a cruise together on it to Greece. With a strange telescopic perspective, narrated from the day she receives her father's ashes, our heroine recounts her youth: her re-married mother, cold and far away, allows the father the rare visit to the child, stashed away with relatives or at a school for girls. "The journey to Greece, father and daughter. The last and first chance to be together." On board the S. S. Proleterka, she has a violent, carnal schooling with the sailors: "I had no experience of the other part of the world, the male part." Mesmerized by the desire to be experienced, she crisply narrates her trysts as well as her near-total neglect of her father. A ferocious study of distance and diffidence, S. S. Proleterka bottles at one hundred and eighty proof the "insomniac resentment" and cyclical nature of familial pain.
An elegantly structured and stubbornly moving study of innocence destroyed and love denied. Very accomplished indeed. (Kirkus Reviews, 1 October 2003)
Jaeggy's characters...live in a tight emotional bandwidth between 'equilibrium and desperation.' (Los Angeles Times Book Review, Susan Salter Reynolds, 23 November 2003)