Zsuzsa Bánk

Der Schwimmer

Price € (D) 11,00 | € (A) 11,40
ISBN: 978-3-596-15248-3


288 Pages,
publishing house:
FISCHER Taschenbuch
publication date:
ISBN 978-3-596-15248-3


Der Schwimmer is an unusual novel in terms of style as well as content. The first-person narrator, Kata, is one of the two main characters, the other being her brother Isti, and her account of her childhood traumatised by the loss of their mother, the aimless wandering from one relative and family friend to another and the constant uprooting cannot but touch the reader to the core. So, in the opposite sense, do the occasions when things go well for the two of them and happiness and stability come to their lives.

The novel is set in postwar Hungary, and the story unfolds against the aftermath of the 1956 uprising, the suppresssion of which destroyed any hope of a different and better world. A wife and mother, Katalin leaves her home and family without a word and flees across the border t o the West. Her husband Kalman sells his smallholding when people at church begin to talk, and from then on the and his two children roam the country.

In the early days of their nomadic existence the children are obsessed with timetables, which they memorise and which symbolise their wish to be elsewhere. In active terms they walk, cycle and hitch lifts from strangers and motorcycles. But the only time they feel joy and experience magic moments is when they are near rivers and lakes, watching their father cut through the waves or, in Isti’s case, swimming after dragonflies or ‚eaves-dropping“ on the fishes.

Der Schwimmer, the work of an important young German writer, is a story of great dreams and great sadness. The characterisations provides a colourful palette of three-dimensional characters, human beings helping the children along in any way they can. Most notable among them are their father’s sister Agi and her spirited daughter Virag, who restore to the pair the precious feeling of family unity. Kata and Isti have lost unselfishness, and an optimism that only children can have. Nonetheless the reader is perturbed to recognise the harm done to their souls.

About Zsuzsa Bánk

Zsuzsa Bánk was born in 1965. While studying Journalism, Political Science, and Literature in Mainz and Washington, she also worked as a bookseller. Today she lives with her husband and two children in Frankfurt am Main. She was awarded the Aspekte Literaturpreis, the German Book Prize, the Jürgen Ponto Prize, the Mara Cassens Prize, as well as the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize for her first novel, Der Schwimmer (The Swimmer). She was also awarded the Bettina von Arnim Prize for Unter Hunden (Among Dogs) from her volume of short stories, Heißester Sommer (The Hottest Summer). Her last novel to be published was Die hellen Tage (Bright Days).

More about Zsuzsa Bánk

Zsuzsa Bánk
Foto: Gaby Gerster

Rights sold to:

DenmarkSamleren, rights returned
ItalyNeri Pozza
ItalyRCS Bompiani
NetherlandsDe Bezige Bij
SpainQuaderns CremaKatalan Rights
SpainEl AcantiladoWorld Spanish rights
USAHarcourtWorld English rights
Der Schwimmer
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