I am aware that Edinburgh Book Festival was over a couple of months but I was saving this report for German Literature Month and thought it would be nice to resurrect Edinburgh Book Festival 2012.
The event was chaired by Rosemary Burnett
Seven Years takes place during a time frame of 18 years. Rosemary commented on the beauty of the prose used within the novel.
Peter told the audience that this style of writing took a long time to find. In the minimalist style of writing there is no room for mistakes. Stamm has found that for him his writing voice comes naturally to him.
The discussion then moved on to Translators. Stamm commented on how when a translator translates a book it becomes their own no matter how many questions they ask the author about things they come across in the novel that they are unsure of the meaning.
Rosemary then quoted a sentence that Stamm once said in an interview that literature should be written out of ordinary people’s lives. Stamm feels that we should be writing about our world. It is too easy to go back in time when there was more drama. Our duty is to show our world as it is.
Rosemary then moved on to how in the United Kingdom we do not read a lot of translated english. Stamm commented on how the United Kingdom seems to be cut off rom translators where in Germany 60% of authors available to buy in bookshops are translated authors.
An audience member asked Stamm about how he sees the German language. Stamm said that German can be a very soft and beautiful language and you are free to read it in any way, in a way it is a language that has freedom from interpretation.
Another audience member asked Stamm whether he prefers to read Short stories or novel. Stamm answered by saying there is not a tradition of short story writing in Germany. It is a challenge to write a short story and it is a beautiful form to write and read in. A novel is a big thing to accomplish, everyone wants to read one.
Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women—and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart. (Taken from Goodreads)
The novel is translated by Michael Hofmann
I read this novel in preparation for Peter Stamm’s event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and it was the first book I had read by the author and I have got to say I was impressed. This was a very literary novel and was a good change of pace to what I had been reading at the time. I loved the philosophy that was intertwined throughout the narrative.
All the characters had obvious flaws in them that jumped out to me as a reader. personally I like to think that these flaws were purposely left in by the author to make the characters seem more relatable to the reader. I was certainly able to relate to the majority of the main characters as they went on their quest to find happiness which overall means finding everlasting love.
The only criticism I have is that the order in with the scene appear in the novel jumps around a lot. This makes it hard to follow the plot at times and I found myself having to reread passages in order for me to understand what was happening.
Overall this was a very enjoyable literary novel, that linger with me long after I had finished it.