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Pigeons on the Grass Paperback – 6 October 2020

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 ratings

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A kaleidoscopic narrative that follows a disparate cast of characters whose lives accidentally intersect during a single day in Munich, Germany, in 1948. Now available in an inspired new translation, this portrait of despair and endurance amid postwar ruin is nothing less than a miniature masterpiece.-- "Kirkus (STARRED)"

Almost eerily contemporary in its concerns, and remarkable as a sidelong, searing appraisal of the legacy of the Nazi years, it is a recovered masterpiece.-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"

In a many-toned language Koeppen not only depicts a cacophonous world but peoples that world with individuals whose lives barely overlap. The result documents a uniquely German situation; it also, with its echoes of James Joyce and John Dos Passos, reconnects the German novel at a surprisingly early date to modernist fiction.-- "The Independent"

Koeppen's prose, as deftly channelled by Hofmann (who acknowledges the 'perfectly good' version of 1988 by David Ward), seems to expand and contract to fill the space offered by each consciousness.--Dustin Illingworth "TLS"

Koeppen's voice--cold, defiant and relentless in its fury at the deadly amnesia he saw emerge from Germany's ruins after World War II--neither transforms nor imbues the world around him, but rather indicts it.--Peter Filkins "The New York Times"

Michael Hofmann has illuminated a dark corner of recent European history... a forgotten masterpiece.-- "The Evening Standard"

Scathing, disillusioned novel ridiculing the notion of a new start and a clean slate for West Germany.
Pigeons on the Grass is set in Munich on a single day and its 105 short fragments reveal the failure of more than thirty characters to face up to reality.-- "London Review of Books"

There are rare writers who inform and enthrall, even terrify. The gifted German enigma Wolfgang Koeppen (1906-1990) is one such witness: candid and strange, allusive, unsettling. Time and again Koeppen stage-manages an unforgettable scene.-- "Irish Times"

Wolfgang Koeppen, a remorselessly brilliant German writer of the 20th century, has long remained scandalously obscure in the Anglophone world. His reputation can finally begin to flower with Michael Hofmann's fine translation of
Pigeons on the Grass, an acute and disquietingly contemporary novel about a society disfigured by racism and historical amnesia.--Pankaj Mishra

Germany's greatest living writer.--Gunter Grass

Scathingly beautiful--lyrically inescapable.--Nadine Gordimer

Among the earliest, grandest, and most poetically satisfying reckonings in fiction with the postwar state of the world.--Michael Hofmann

Those who haven't read this novel cannot claim to know German literature after 1945.--Marcel Reich-Ranicki

About the Author

Wolfgang Koeppen (1906-1996) was born in Greifswald and died in Munich. He worked as a commis chef, a dramaturge, and an editor. In 1951, 1953 and 1954 three novels were published to high acclaim for accurately capturing the atmosphere of the republic under Konrad Adenauer: Pigeons on the Grass, The Hothouse, and Death In Rome.

The poet
Michael Hofmann has won numerous prizes for his German translations.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ W. W. Norton & Company (6 October 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 208 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0811229181
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0811229180
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 13.21 x 1.78 x 20.32 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18 ratings

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