Gert Jonke's prose ripples along like a piano étude, transcending its meticulously constructed sequences to transport the reader into an imaginary world. With a delightful combination of the ridiculous and the sublime, Jonke explores surreal dimensions of space and sound, always anchoring his flights of fancy in accessible imagery. More than any other author, Jonke, a pianist turned writer, avails himself of compositional techniques from classical music. Different characters sound their own themes in cleverly orchestrated conversations. Opening observations are restated at the end by another character instead of in another key. Not surprisingly, the first-person narrator is a composer, a young man who is all the more likeable for his difficulties: his missing girlfriend and his withdrawal symptoms. The title is taken from a collection of studies by Carl Czerny; the content is a literary tour de force.
About the Author
Gert Jonke is counted among Austria's most important authors and dramatists. Among other prizes, he received the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, the Erich Fried Prize, and the Grand Austrian State Prize for Literature. He died in 2009 at the age of 62.
Jean M. Snook lives with her husband on the easternmost tip of North America, the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland, where she has taught German language and literature at Memorial University since 1984. She received the 2011 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator s Prize for her translation of Gert Jonke s The Distant Sound.