Winter's Garden Valerie Fritsch

Suhrkamp, 2017
  • Book
  • , Fiction
Sample of "Winter's Garden"

Rights Information

Nora Mercurio, Surkamp / Insel
mercurio@suhrkamp.de
The front cover of Winter's Garden by Valerie Fritsch. Two human skeletons are each leading a skeleton dinosaur across the cover by a leash.

The language with which Valerie Fritsch talks of the gap that tears through the world and each individual is of infatuating beauty, one that wasn’t to be found in German-language contemporary literature for a long time.

derStandard

Winter's Garden Valerie Fritsch

Suhrkamp, 2017
  • Book
  • , Fiction
Sample of "Winter's Garden"

Rights Information

Nora Mercurio, Surkamp / Insel
mercurio@suhrkamp.de

When I read Winter’s Garden for the first time, I was captivated by it, and have remained so ever since. Fritsch’s style is hauntingly beautiful and her vision compelling. Its sensuous images and almost folkloric quality remind me of the work of A. S. Byatt and Jeanette Winterson.

The novella is imaginatively structured, with sparing dialogue that is predominantly concentrated in just one of the chapters. The excerpt presented here is taken from the opening chapter, in which the central character, Anton Winter, is still a child, growing up amongst his extended family in a garden colony. The languid days in the lush garden and expansive farmhouse are deeply evocative of the innocence of childhood, yet the rural idyll is far from saccharine; in such a close community with multiple generations, death is far from being hidden or disguised. The theme of cyclical renewal, of birth and death and rebirth, runs throughout the novel. Flowers bloom, then wither and die with the seasons; storms exert their destructive force; and nature reclaims the land at will. As the story unfolds, the supposed utopia gives way to dystopia, and the reader next encounters Anton as a grown man. He is an aviarist, his home a glass-walled apartment perched atop the tallest high- rise in the city, overlooking the sea. He is a reclusive figure, who silently observes the city below crumbling in on itself as the inevitable yet unexplained “fall” of the world approaches. Despite the intensity of the apocalyptic subject matter, however, the novella is surprisingly uplifting, due to its poetic imagery and Fritsch’s ability to pinpoint the eternally compelling complexities of human existence.

About the Author

Valerie Fritsch is an Austrian author and photographer. Her novels Winter’s Garden and Heart Valves by Johnson & Johnson were longlisted for the German Book Prize in 2015 and 2020 respectively. She lives in Graz and Vienna.

The language with which Valerie Fritsch talks of the gap that tears through the world and each individual is of infatuating beauty, one that wasn’t to be found in German-language contemporary literature for a long time.

derStandard