Dark, desolate, and somber, Wolfgang Hilbig's The Sleep of the Righteous is as much a collection of linked stories as it is a single work of fiction. Set in the decades following World War II, Hilbig's (apparently semi-autobiographical) reminiscences span the years from adolescence to post-reunification. Funereal, stark, and dimly light, The Sleep of the Righteous inhabits whatever realm is beyond foreboding, a dreadful tedium wherein echoes remind and recall ad infinitum. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Doppelgängers, a murderers guilt, pulp noir, fanatical police, and impossible romancesthese are the pieces from which German master Wolfgang Hilbig builds a divided nation battling its demons. Delving deep into the psyches of both East and West Germany, The Sleep of the Righteous reveals a powerful, apocalyptic account of the century-defining nations trajectory from 1945 to 1989. From a youth in a war-scarred industrial town to wearying labor as a factory stoker, surreal confrontations with the Stasi, and, finally, a conflicted escape to the West, Hilbig creates a cipher that is at once himself and so many of his fellow Germans. Evoking the eerie bleakness of films like Tarkovskys Stalker and The Lives of Others, this titan of German letters combines the Romanticism of Poe with the absurdity of Kafka to create a visionary, somber statement on the ravages of history and the promises of the future.
[Hilbig writes as] Edgar Allan Poe could have written if he had been born in Communist East Germany.” Los Angeles Review of Books
Beautiful, dream-like stories of the pain and wonder of becoming oneself.” Die Zeit
Wolfgang Hilbig is on the track of the truth. Once he has found it, he is not afraid to look it straight in the face.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Pure, masterful . . . a calmly, powerfully flowing stream of words that stops time like an endless spell of intoxication.” Süddeutsche Zeitung
About the Author
(19412007) 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 west. The author of over 20 books, he received virtually all of Germanys major literary prizes, capped by the 2002 Georg Büchner Prize, Germanys highest literary honor.
Isabel Fargo Cole is a U.S.-born, Berlin-based writer and translator. Her translations include Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006), All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011) and The Jew Car by Franz Fühmann (Seagull Books, 2013). The recipient of a prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Grant in 2013, she is the initiator and co-editor of No-mans-land.org, an online magazine for new German literature in English.
László Krasznahorkai is the recipient of the 2015 International Man Booker Prize. He is the author of Seiobo There Below, Satantango, The Melancholy of Resistance, and others. He lives in New York City.