Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ilija Trojanow's German-language cli-fi novel 'Eis Tau' (literally ''Ice Thaw'') translated now by Philip Boehm for VERSO BOOKS for its MAY 2016 debut in English

*** UPDATE: The book's due out in May: Ilija and Philip will give a reading together on April 25 in St. Louis..
Philip Boehm has translated the cli-fi novel 'EisTau' from the German original with English title of ''The Lamentations of Zeno'' (by the German-Bulgarian writer Ilija Trojanow)

Ilija Trojanow (Bulgarian: Илия Троянов, also transliterated as Iliya Troyanov; born August 23, 1965 in Sofia), is a Bulgarian–German writer, translator and publisher.


Ilija Trojanow
Get ready, America, and everywhere else where international readers of English-language novels dwell. U.S. translator Philip Boehm, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Goethe-Institut, which is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has completed a sizzling translation of an important ''cli-fi'' novel from Germany, titled ''EIS TAU'' in GERMAN in 2011 (for literally, ''ICE THAW,'' but rendered in the English version in 2016 as ''THE LAMENTATIONS OF ZENO,'' Zeno being Herr Zeno  Hintermeier, the main character in the novel.
Awareness of the emerging ''Cli-Fi'' genre has been growing by leaps and bounds in the English-speaking world ever since Angela Evancie reported on several modern cli-fi novels in an April 2013 NPR radio segment that went viral worldwide and secured a place for cli-fi in the annals of world literature.

And not only in English has the cli-fi term found a place in newspaper articles and book reviews (and blogs and tweets and pins on Pinterest) but the term has also found a home in non-English languages such as Finnish, German, French, Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish.

Some non-English cli-fi novelists to jot down in your notebooks include: Jean-Marc Ligny and Yann Quero in France; Jesper Weithz in Sweden; Antti Tuomainen (''The Healer'' is in English now) and Emmi Itaranta ("Memory of Water" is in English now) in Finland; Bruno Arpaia in Italy; ''Anna'' by Jostein Gaarder and Gert Nygårdhaug's novel ''Chimera'' in Norway.
You want cli-fi? I'll will give you cli-fi.
Trojanow's novel is worth discovering and even if you don't know a word of German, the splended and smooth translation into polished English will introduce you to how German literature and culture is reacting to global warming and climate change.

Incidentally, you can read more about the book at the NEA website -- they were good enough to support the translation and deserve a big round of applause for doing so. (See "Writers' Corner" or the translation fellowship page at the NEA website.)

NOTE: The book's due out in May: Ilija and Philip will give a reading together on April 25
in St. Louis..
The translation of the novel was supported in part by a grant from the Goethe-Institut, which is funded by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
First published in English in May by Verso 2016 Translation © Philip Boehm 2016 First published as ''EisTau'' © Carl Hanser Verlag 2011

I don't think I will be giving anything away about the plot of the novel by noting here that Mr. Boehm, in his ''Author's Note'' at the beginning of the book, tells readers, well, let me tell you what he tells us, in a short excerpt from his note:
"With ''The Lamentations of Zeno,'' Ilija Trojanow charts new territory in prose as well as geography.
 ''[While] not a native speaker of German [since he was born in Bulgaria and later immigrated to Germany], Trojanow has adopted German and adapted it to his own purposes, taking full advantage of its lexical fecundity, creating words at will, and of its suspended syntax, with which he unleashes whole currents of consciousness.
''Alternating painterly descriptions of the natural world with cacophonic passages composed of song snippets, adspeak and “breaking news,” he contrasts the majestic stillness of the Antarctic with the clamor of human “civilization.”
''And all of this is framed within a confessional log that allows the reader to reconstruct the emotional course of the troubled protagonist. The sheer range of registers is impressive — and quite a challenge for the translator.
''The title itself is a case in point: A literal “IceThaw” not only lacks the “aura” of the original EisTau, it also fails to convey the layers of  meaning lurking in the German. “Melting Ice” seemed a bit lackluster, while “Meltdown” was more appropriate for any number of TV movies.
''......My primary task in translating the book [was] to recreate the voice of  Zeno Hintermeier — his gruff demeanor, deprecating self-irony, bone-dry wit, and great erudition. ......" 

At the end of the book in both its German and its English iterations, Mr Trojanow listed some of the people who guided him along the way as his novel took shape, noting:
''Thanks to everyone who generously shared their expertise and who helped me, on land as well as at sea:
Dr. Reinhard Böhm for the lively glacier tutorial
Kristina Dörlitz for the excellent research assistance
Alexandra Föderl-Schmid for the second commission
Petra Glardon for the wonderful iceberg photos
Prof. Dr. Wilfried Haeberli for his edifying encouragement
Christoph Hofbauer for his high-powered advice
Mijnheer Hans Huyssen for the music
Angelika Klammer for her inspired and inspiring editing
Freddy Langer for the friendly press service
Dr. Rudi Mair for the conversation about Alpine climate and Antarctic overwintering
Borrego Pedro Rosa Mendes for the days and nights at the Tejo Compañero
José F. A. Oliver for his empathetic reading of the manuscript
Papa Heinz Renk for showing me the Tyrolean glaciers
Dr. Miguel Rubio-Godoy for the avalanche of calamities
Dr. Christine Scholten for the medical review
Dorothée Stöbener for the first commission
Susann Urban for the gift of the title
Juli Zeh for the wielding the red pen
Hurtigruten Shipping for their double hospitality
The poems cited in my text are by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Klabund and Pablo Neruda.''

-- Ilija Trojanow
Now .......for the novel itself. In fact, I am reading it now as I key-in these initial thoughts, and I feel that this ''cli-fi'' from Germany will take the English-speaking world by storm (no pun intended) and wake up more people worldwide to the very real issues of man-man global warming and climate change....not with government charts and boring statistics, but with an emotional roller-coaster ride from a master of modern German literature.
Welcome to America, Herr Trojanow! You are in very good hands with Mr Boehm as your able translator!
Cover von von Ilija Trojanows „Eis Tau“; © Hanser Verlag

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In Ilija Torjanow’s climate-change cli-fi novel ''The Lamentations of Zeno''   -- first published in German in 2011 as Eis Tau -- humans are explicitly held responsible for climate change. This time, however, the accuser is one of them: Zeno Hintermeier, the novel’s protagonist, is convinced that humankind will destroy everything “that places itself on nature’s side”.
As a glaciologist and the leader of cruise ship exhibitions in the Antarctic, he becomes a key witness to the environmental destruction that goes hand in hand with technological progress exploited for tourism: the Antarctic, formerly a desolate continent of courageous explorers, can suddenly be “conquered” even by old-age pensioners thanks to modern ships.

 In ''The Lamentations of Zeno,'' Zeno’s elegiac grief at the melting of the poles serves not only to give greater emphasis to the “inconvenient truth”; it also serves as the basis for a more general criticism of human ignorance about climate change, the destructive power of which is embodied in particular by the tourists on board the cruise ship. Zeno condemns this through an act of self-administered justice ........ but I won't give away the SPOILER ALERT here just yet. Y[ou will have to read the book to find out  just what the author has in store for you.]
Ilija Trojanow's German-language cli-fi novel  'EisTau' (literally ''Ice Thaw'') has been translated now by Philip Boehm for VERSO BOOKS for MAY 2016 debut in English

''The Lamentations of Zeno'' -----(actually they are the lamentations of the novel's main character Mr. Zeno Hintermeier)
ORIGINAL TITLE in GERMAN is ''EIS TAU'' (literally ''ICE THAW'')

A Cli-Fi Novel By Ilija Trojanow, [a German-Bulgarian novelist, writing in German]

Now Translated in English by Philip Boehm in USA
(for this cli-fi novel coming out in May 2016 from VERSO Books

It's also a kind of travelogue: Ilija Trojanow has written many travel books as well as fiction.

A professor friend who knows German literature from A to Z tells this blog in a midnight email:You want to know about cli fi novels in German?

''Well, Ilija Trojanow's novel 'EisTau' is probably the best known German novel on climate change.''

A ''cli-fi'' about climate disaster and a scientist imploding on a journey to the Antarctic


''With 'The Lamentations of Zeno,' superbly translated by Philip Boehm, readers in America now have at their disposal a bird's eye view of German cli-fi, a novel so delicious yet prophetic that the world of German literature will never be seen in quite the same light again. Ilija Trojanow has hit a home run!" -- Dan Bloom, editor, The Cli-Fi Report

“There is little that a novelist can tell us on the subject that we do not already know, but Trojanow gives the statistics and prognoses a human dimension … one of Europe’s most original contemporary writers.” – UK Times Literary Supplement

The Lamentations of Zeno is electric, irresistible, well written and movingly topical cli-fi. Ilija Trojanow, with several masterpieces to his name, never puts a foot wrong. He is as important a writer in this day and age as Günter Grass was for his—a joy to read.” – Nuruddin Farah, author of Hiding in Plain Sight

“Thrilling, nuanced, and chillingly meditative … Ilija Trojanow has written a modern cli-fi fable tinged with absurd humor, dramatizing the high stakes of our current climate gamble.” – Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin

Cover von von Ilija Trojanows „Eis Tau“; © Hanser Verlag


54°49´1˝ S, 68°19´5˝ W

There’s no worse nightmare than no longer being able to save yourself by waking up. Whenever we set sail from Ushuaia, we gather the evening before in one of the local dives that’s a little ways uphill and off the main streets, just when the last band of light is slipping from the sky. We haven’t seen one another for half a year, so we’re in the mood to celebrate as we crowd around a long wooden table.

The man waiting on us is old, and judging by his face not very adventurous, although at one parting he confessed to me that he was getting along well apart from an occasional urge to puncture his hand with a knife.

His place doesn’t have much on offer, but he’ll fill your glass for very little and I’m content to sit here holding my drink, surrounded by the hardworking Filipinos that make up most of the crew, now smiling broadly at our reunion.

Every payday brings them closer to settling down to a home and the sheltering shade of a large family, and so they soldier on, slogging through their working days with an astounding ease. For me they will always be an enigma.

Ushuaia is incapable of dampening their mood, as is any echo of the butchery, any painful reminder of the past—their ears are simply not tuned to that frequency, that legacy belongs to Europeans, those are the scars of the white man. They drift through this place just as they do through all the other places that have been defi led, all our ports of call (what a pretentious phrase from some liturgy of advertising), seeming not to touch the ground when they go ashore.

That is what separates us, we have no common past: what paralyzes me seems to fill them with life. Apart from that, they’re “easy to handle,” as our onboard hotel manager never tires of repeating (by which he means: much better than the unruly Chinese), as if he had personally trained them to be so diligent so patient so tame.

The Filipinos’ zeal would bother me were it not for Paulina, who at this moment is probably busy giving a personal touch to our shared cabin, equipping it with artifi cial fl owers and photographs depicting an entire menagerie of relatives—the numerous grandmothers perched in front on dilapidated rattan armchairs dragged into the garden just for the occasion, and standing behind them all the daughters and sons, loyal to a man except for the one who ran off and is rumored to be chopping vegetables in a New York restaurant.

I raise my glass to Paulina’s countrymen — mechanics, cooks, pilots — and to Ricardo, our dining room manager, as unobtrusive as a
shrink-wrapped suitcase, but watch out, his true power will be revealed during the course of the trip, every passenger will get to know him and a few will appreciate him (“Howzit going, Mr. Iceberger?” he says, giving me a thumbs-up, always concerned to clear potential misunderstandings out of the way before they happen).

It’s a sight for the gods, the way the millionaires from the northern hemisphere line up in front of his desk, eagerly bowing as they slip him an envelope to thank him for the coveted starboard table with a box-seat view of ice fl oes and leopard seals. My recent years at sea have taught me that rich people are prepared to pay considerable sums for little privileges. That sets them apart from the masses, feeds Ricardo’s confi dence, and fi nances the expansion of his guesthouse in Romblon.

 He’s no more interested in fur seals, leopard seals or penguins than he is in glaciers or icebergs, but he takes advantage of every scenic opportunity—“What a view, fantastic, fantastic, please take your seats,”—as he parades his teeth in a broad grin.

I’m sure he’d squeeze in just as many “fantastics” in front of a garbage depot as long as there were people willing to pay for a premium seat. All he really cares about is whether something is sellable or not. Whenever we’re all together he fl irts with the blonde whale lady now sitting to his left, always resorting to the same lines, which he polishes like a fi ngernail, “You know some day I’m going to sit in on your lecture, I mean it, I really want to learn all about these fi sh, now that I’ve watched them from the restaurant and seen them spouting, they really are very beautiful creatures” — but when it comes to the beautiful Beate, he has a hard time understanding why she prefers whales to people, which is why he’s going to sit in the fi rst row during one of her next lectures and write down every single word she says.

He promises this before every trip, when we’re gathered at the long wooden table that’s pitted and scored with random dents and notches. “This time I mean it,” he says, “I swear to heaven”—and the whale lady pinches his arm.

She speaks English with a German accent, German with a hint of Spanish, and Spanish with Chilean intonation. Despite his assurances, nothing will come of Ricardo’s “cetacean education.” But what he will do for certain at the end of the trip is pass a chef’s hat around on behalf of the men in the kitchen, while they line up in front of the curved buffet and perform a song in Tagalog that sounds like the ‘‘Hymn to the Unknown Server’’ and is always received with thunderous applause.


see also: THE Cli-Fi Report's COUNTRY REPORT for Germany:

Cli-Fi in GERMANY:

Mr Trojanow was born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1965. In 1971 his family fled Bulgaria through Yugoslavia and Italy to Germany, where they received political asylum. In 1972 the family travelled on to Kenya, where Ilija's father had obtained a job as engineer. With one interruption from 1977–1981, Ilija Trojanow lived in Nairobi until 1984, and attended a German-language school. After a stay in Paris, he studied law and ethnology at Munich University from 1985 to 1989. He interrupted these studies to found Kyrill-und-Method-Verlag in 1989, and after that Marino-Verlag in 1992, both of which specialised in African literature. In 1999 Trojanow moved to Mumbai and became intensely involved with Indian life and culture. He has lived in Cape Town, returned to Germany (Mainz), and then to Austria, where he currently resides in Vienna.

In the 1990s Trojanow wrote several non-fiction and travel books about Africa, published an anthology of contemporary African literature and translated African authors into German. His first novel, "Die Welt ist groß und Rettung lauert überall", appeared in 1996. In it he recounts his family's experiences as political refugees and asylum seekers. After that appeared the science fiction novel "Autopol", created on the Internet as a "novel in progress," "Hundezeiten", a travel account of a visit to his Bulgarian homeland, and books dealing with his experiences in India. His reportage "Zu den heiligen Quellen des Islam" describes a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Since 2002 Ilija Trojanow has been member of the PEN centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Among other awards he received the Bertelsmann Literature Prize at the Ingeborg Bachmann competition in Klagenfurt in 1995, the Marburg Literature Prize in 1996, the Thomas Valentin Prize in 1997, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize in 2000 and the Leipzig Book Fair Prize in the category of fiction for his novel "Der Weltensammler" (The Collector of Worlds) in 2006.


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