The Field

The Field

Written by: Seethaler, Robert
Edited by: Collins, Charlotte

From Robert Seethaler, the International Booker Prize finalist for A Whole Life and bestselling author of The Tobacconist, comes a tale of life and death and human connection, told through the voices of those who have passed on.

If the dead could speak, what would they say to the living?

 From their graves in Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories. Some recall just a moment — perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one they now realize shaped their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved. This chorus of voices — young, old, rich, poor — builds a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground. The streets of the small provincial town are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned, and died there.

The Field is a constellation of human lives — each one different yet connected to countless others — that shows how existence, for all its fleetingness, still has profound meaning.

From Robert Seethaler, the International Booker Prize finalist for A Whole Life and bestselling author of The Tobacconist, comes a tale of life and death and human connection, told through the voices of those who have passed on.

If the dead could speak, what would they say to the living?

 From their graves in Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories. Some recall just a moment — perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one they now realize shaped their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved. This chorus of voices — young, old, rich, poor — builds a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground. The streets of the small provincial town are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned, and died there.

The Field is a constellation of human lives — each one different yet connected to countless others — that shows how existence, for all its fleetingness, still has profound meaning.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc - Oct 5, 2021
Specifications 240 pages | 5.5 in x 8.5 in

PRAISE FOR ROBERT SEETHALER AND THE FIELD

“A moving study of how all lives boil down to a handful of choices, often made by others. This is a quietly profound novel made all the more beautiful by its brevity.” — Financial Times

“Seethaler paints a multi-faceted picture of a small town through the stories of the troubled souls lying in its cemetery ... Carefully crafted moments of catharsis ... hit you with all the force of a freight train.” — Scotsman

"If the dead were to talk among themselves, what would they discuss? Life, of course ... In twenty-nine chapters of unequal length — from two words (but what words!) to twenty pages — each devoted to a person who has lived in the small town of Paulstadt since the end of the Second World War, Seethaler brings lives to life, revealing their secrets, hopes, regrets, and joys ... There are premonitions. There are memories. Both can deceive. What is not deceptive, however, is the talent of Robert Seethaler." — Le Monde

“One of those rare novels that can move you existentially, and change you.” ? SWR

“This book about a village’s dead proves that subtle literary quality and bestseller success do not have to be mutually exclusive.” ? Die Zeit

“The whole thing is so wonderfully crafted … that you literally don’t want to stop reading, that you’re sad to come to the end … What he has mastered like few other authors in German literary history is to give all his characters a profound dignity.” ? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung


PRAISE FOR ROBERT SEETHALER AND THE TOBACCONIST

“Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist is a coming-of-age story, that’s sweet, balanced between pathos and humour.” — Toronto Star 

“Seethaler blends tragedy and whimsy to create a bittersweet picture of youthful ideals getting clobbered by external forces.” — Guardian 

“Set at a time of lengthening shadows, this is a novel about the sparks that illuminate the dark: of wisdom, compassion, defiance, and courage. It is wry, piercing, and also, fittingly, radiant.” — Daily Mail 

“Seethaler blends tragedy and whimsy to create a bittersweet picture of youthful ideals getting clobbered by external forces. The result is a little like Great Expectations, only with dachshunds and strudel.” — Observer 

“Essential reading for the early years of the 21st century.” — Scotland on Sunday 

“[The Tobacconist’s] portrayal of pre-war Vienna is tender and elegiac. There are echoes of Arthur Schnitzler in Franz’s feverish obsession with Anezka, Ödön von Horváth in minor characters such as the neighbouring butcher who denounces the tobacconist to the Gestapo, and Robert Musil in the texture of the city. The moment when the frail, ill Dr Freud boards the train for London is an elegy for the cultural and intellectual glory of early twentieth-century Vienna … The Tobacconist remains unwavering in its quiet, understated style and it is all the more devastating for it.” — Times Literary Supplement 

“Told with a dry wit that enhances, rather than disguises, the sadness of its story, The Tobacconist is a touching miniature of an ordinary life irrevocably altered by the larger forces of history.” — Sunday Times

“Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist is a poignant, tragic look at the creeping rise of fascism in Vienna before the outbreak of the Second World War. Told with humor and pity, the novel expertly depicts how easy it is to find, and lose, one’s place in the world … [The Tobacconist] brilliantly demonstrates how even small actions can give a person meaning in the face of dire threats. — Shelf Awareness

“I enjoyed Robert Seethaler’s The Tobacconist. The novel sets up a tiny tobacconist’s shop in 1930s Vienna as a window on to a street, a city and a continent, all drifting into conflict.” — New Statesman

“Seethaler writes with great lightness of how reading widely and accumulating wisdom make life richer, but also more complicated.” — Der Spiegel 

“Tender, quiet, gentle, poetic — a little treasure.” — Elke Heidenreich, SWR 

“With this novel Robert Seethaler has created a wonderful tale of adolescence, told with great lightness and humour — but the dark rumblings of the hard times just starting in Vienna are always present in the background.” — kulturtipp 

“For me, Seethaler is a great storyteller in the tradition of Polgar and Joseph Roth.” — Gerhard Polt 

“With The Tobacconist, Robert Seethaler has succeeded in writing a wholly coherent, condensed coming-of-age novel. Not a word is wasted.” — Die Presse 

“Robert Seethaler is a great storyteller who loves his characters, and he has a wonderful sense of the dramatic which never gets out of hand.” — 20 Minuten 

“Robert Seethaler writes about all this in a way that is understated yet captivating and very poetically powerful, stylistically confident.” — Junge Welt 

The Tobacconist is a stirring, affecting, extremely multi-faceted book. It’s a coming-of-age novel, a love story, a portrait of society, and although it’s a work of fiction it reads like an important contemporary document of the darkest period in Austria’s history. All this is conveyed by Robert Seethaler with such literary lightness, precision and vivid imagery that, like the protagonist himself, the reader is inevitably swept up in the maelstrom of events.” — ORF

 

PRAISE FOR ROBERT SEETHALER AND A WHOLE LIFE 

Winner, Anton-Wildgans Prize, 2017

Winner, Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize, 2017

Finalist, Man Booker International Prize, 2016

Finalist, International DUBLIN Literary Award, 2017

Finalist, ALTA National Translation Award, 2017

Finalist, Edinburgh International Books Festival Awards: Best First Novel

 

A Whole Life is a provocatively ambitious title for this spare, novella-length work … Flecked with profundity [and] dark humor.” —John Williams, The New York Times 

“The Austrian writer Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life is a lovely contemplation of a life in solitude in a remote valley, into which the modern world slowly intrudes.” — Ian McEwan, Sunday Times 

“The story of Andreas Egger is both heartbreaking and uplifting … The beauty of this slim volume makes the reader pause and think about what it means to be alive.” — Toronto Star 

“[A] quiet reflection on solitude, transformation and contentment … A lovely story, and stands as a testament to the fact only we can define our happiness, and life is what you make it.” — Winnipeg Free Press 

“One of my treasured discoveries this year was Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life … From the very first page you know it’s about to rearrange your mental universe. It is a breathtaking, heartbreaking story that encapsulates a universe of change, loss, resilience.” — Anuradha Roy, The Millions 

“Mr. Seethaler has produced a compact work of grace and beauty.” — Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal 

“A tender and moving look at the human capacity for adaptation, Seethaler’s understated tale is a reminder that joy can be found in daily toils and simple pleasures.” — Booklist 

“Readers will discover in [Seethaler’s] contained prose a vehicle for keen insight and observation.” — Publishers Weekly 

“Robert Seethaler’s quietly mesmerizing novel — elemental in both tone and subject — shows what joy and nobility can be found in a life of hardship, patience, and bereavement. It is at once heart-rending and heart-warming. A Whole Life, for all its gentleness, is a very powerful book.” — Jim Crace, author of Harvest 

“Robert Seethaler’s novel is, like its hero, short on words but in its 150 pages manages to do exactly what it says on the tin: embrace a whole life … It’s an unremarked existence, told in simple prose, of a simple man that magically captures the universal in all our lives. A slim masterpiece.” — Daily Mail 

“The book’s prose has a directness and detail that helps set off the moments of genuine wisdom and restrained poetry … It is at this point that you realize why the novel should be doing so well in Germany, and why it is so urgent for the rest of us: it can guide its readers to make the best of their lives, however they turn out.” —Sunday Telegraph 

“It’s refreshing to read a story marked by quiet, concentrated attention … a reaction to all around us that is prolix, narcissistic, and mindlessly technology-worshipping. What is perhaps most remarkable about this remarkable novel is the way that it continually weaves past, present, and future into a single fabric. A deeply moving book.” — Adam Lively, Sunday Times 

“Seethaler shows that for even the most ordinary people, life is an extraordinary adventure — and he does so tenderly and memorably.” — Mail on Sunday 

“No praise is too high for A Whole Life. Its daunting beauty lingers. This is a profound, wise and humane novel that no reader will forget.” — Irish Times 

“Every nuance, every word, every sentence — everything is precisely in place. An admirable achievement for such a slim volume.” — Die Welt 

“The delicate, elegant song of a fulfilled life … Full of wonder.” — Literarische Welt 

“Do yourself a favour and read this book. It is food for the soul — so quiet, so subtle, yet with resounding reverberations.” — Christine Westermann, WDR 

“A magnificent author who moves us so profoundly with an unforgettable book.” — Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 

“[Seethaler has] succeeded in crafting a book which has to be described as more poignant and harrowing than anything written in a very long time.” — taz 

“Every word has a place. Words evoke an imagery that is imprinted in the reader's mind … [A] poignant song of a fulfilled life.” — Sukhasa Reads Blog