My Father's Book
Translated by Donal McLaughlin
5 x 8 inches, 130pp. February 2012
ISBN : 9780857420176
Rs 425.00 (HB)
In this companion to Urs Widmer’s novel My Mother’s Lover, the narrator is again the son who pieces together the fragments of his parents’ stories. Since the age of 12, Karl, the father, has observed the family tradition of recording his life in a single notebook, but when his book is lost soon after his death, his son resolves to rewrite it.
Here, we get to know Karl’s friends—a collection of anti-fascist painters and architects known as Group 33. We learn of the early years of Karl’s marriage and follow his military service as the Swiss fear a German invasion during the Second World War, his political activity for the Communist Party and his brief career as a teacher. We are told of Karl’s literary translations of his favourite French books, and, most important, the eerie and ever-present coffins outside the houses in the home village of Karl’s father, one reserved for each individual from the day he or she is born. Widmer brilliantly combines family history and historical events to tell the story of a man more at home in the world of the imagination than in the real world, a father who grows on the reader just as he grows on his son.
Urs Widmer (1938 – 2014) was a Swiss novelist, playwright, essayist and a short story writer. He was the co-founder of Verlag der Autoren, an author-owned publishing house focusing on texts related to the performing arts. His other works published by Seagull Books include My Mother’s Lover, In the Congo, The Blue Soda Siphon, My Father’s Book, On Life, Death and This and That and That of the Rest and Mr Adamson.
Donal McLaughlin is author of An Allergic Reaction to national Anthems and Other Stories (2009) and has specialized in translating Swiss fiction. Known for the stage version of The Reader (with Chris Dilan, 2000) and Shards (2003), the bilingual edition of the poems of Stella Rotenberg, he has also translated Widmer's My Mother's Lover (2001), My Father's Book (2012, nominated for the Best Translated Book Award 2012) and On Life, Death, and This and That of the Rest (2013), all available from Seagull Books.