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Robert Menasse

The Capital

Novel
(German title: Die Hauptstadt)
ca. 459 pages
Hardcover
2017
Robert Menasse
Foto: Robert Menasse
© Jeff Mangione

Born in 1954 in Vienna, Menasse studied German language and literature, philosophy and political science in Vienna, Salzburg and Messina. Today he lives in Vienna and Amsterdam as a novellist and essayist.

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UK & Commonwealth (MacLehose Press), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), Russia (Text), Portuguese rights (Dom Quixote), France (Verdier), Italy (Sellerio), Netherlands (Arbeiderspers), Poland (Noir sur Blanc), Czech Republic (Plus), Hungary (Geopen), Bulgaria (Lege Artis), Lithuania (Tyto Alba), Croatia (Fraktura), Serbia (Arhipelag), Slovenia (Cankarjeva založba), Turkey (Everest), Greece (Patakis), Georgia (Intelekti), Armenia (Antares)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Der Hörverlag), German Book Club (Büchergilde Gutenberg)

Winner of the German Book Prize 2017


The great European novel. Robert Menasse’s Testament to a Shameful Age.

About

Brussels. A panorama of tragic heroes, manipulative losers, involuntary accomplices. In his new novel, Robert Menasse spans a narrative arc between the times, the nations, the inevitable and the irony of fate, between petty bureaucracy and big emotions.

Fenia Xenapoulou is facing a career setback. She has been »promoted« to the Department of Culture by the Directorate General – no budget, no power, no reputation. So the »Big Jubilee Project« comes just at the right time for her: she is to revamp the boring image of the European Commission. Her Austrian personal assistant Martin Susmann suggests proclaiming Auschwitz as the birthplace of the European Commission. Fenia is thrilled, but she didn’t take the other European nations into account. Austria: a Polish camp could not be misused to question the Austrian nation. Poland: Auschwitz is a German problem. Germany: Islam, by now a part of Germany, had nothing to do with Auschwitz. What’s more, Fenia can’t count on David de Vriend, one of the last living witnesses, any longer: he runs to the metro station Maalbeek at the wrong time.

Inspector Brunfaut is in a difficult situation as well. He is supposed to leave a murder case covered up at the highest level at rest. But luckily he is friends with the chief computer scientists of the Brussels Police Department, who can gain access to the secret files of the public prosecutor‘s office. Matek, the Polish hitman, knows nothing of this when he makes his escape. But he does know that he shot the wrong guy. That’s not nothing to Matek. He would rather have become ordained a priest; the fact that he had to follow his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in becoming a “soldier of Christ”, doesn’t really make him happy. And yes, there are others who are unhappy as well: the pig farmers who take to the streets with pitchforks in protest of the existing trade restrictions blocking the profitable export of pigs’ ears to China

Praise

»This is an elegantly written, fabulously constructed, very witty and thoughtful novel.« Die Zeit

»More than practically anyone else in German-language literature, Menasse has made the history of Europe his subject.« Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»The committed intellectual reveals himself here to be an uncompromising, even passionate storyteller, […] who handles his material so masterfully (that due to the lightness of touch one actually forgets the complexity of the constellations of characters so that after nearly five hundred pages [the reader] is astonished that the novel is already at an end.) Skilfully and with great wit Menasse shows time and again […] how swiftly the private can slide into the political, and indeed just how political the private self is.« Tobias Lehmkuhl, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Depicting the milieu of Brussels bureaucrats poses no difficulties. On the contrary, it is tremendously successful.« Jochen Hieber, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»A coup – so far no writer of quality has tried to find out whether European bureaucracy works as a literary concept…with his novel Die Hauptstadt, Menasse provides an enjoyable reading experience…« Carsten Otte, taz. die tageszeitung

»He manages to write humorously about Europe’s bureaucratic world without resorting to mockery.« Andrea Pollmeier, Frankfurter Rundschau

»Die Hauptstadt is an outstanding masterpiece, full of knowledge and ideas, politically astute and convincing in literary terms; this book proves that as a concept, major social novels are still a suitable means of conveying substantial questions of our time in an enlightening manner in our so complex world.« Christian Schacherreiter, Oberösterreichische Nachrichten

»Robert Menasse has […] written a gripping mix of clever observations and thriller.’ ‘ […] he masters this craft so effortlessly and brilliantly that Die Hauptstadt can be devoured like a crime novel if required.« Alexander Altmann, Nürnberger Nachrichten

»Once again, Robert Menasse presents himself as a masterful narrator who creates clear-cut images with concise outlines.« ORF

»Writers such as Robert Menasse should be listened to more closely and politicians should at last forge links again with such intellectuals.« Björn Hayer, Spiegel Online

»Menasse’s novel Die Haupstadt (‘The Capital’) is a pleasurable reading experience...« Carsten Otte, SWR2 Zeitgenossen

»Menasse is a storyteller and polemic, a clear thinker on history, and a visionary who, before giving free rein, checks his facts. And he is seductive, lending conviction through the strength of his language.« Anton Thuswalder, Salzburger Nachrichten

Other publications

Ich kann jeder sagen/Everyone can say I (2009)

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English world rights (Ariadne), France (Jacqueline Chambon), Bulgaria (Lege Artis)

Don Juan de La Mancha oder Die Erziehung der Lust/Don Juan de la Mancha or an Education in Pleasure (2007)

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English world rights (Alma Books/Calder Publications), Spanish world rights (Alianza), France (Verdier), Italy (Scritturapura), Netherlands (Arbeiderspers), Czech Republic (Pre-Media), Slovakia (Kalligram), Hungary (Kalligram), Bulgaria (Lege Artis), Latvia (AGB), Lithuania (Pasvires Pasaulis), Hindi (Vani)

Die Vertreibung aus der Hölle/Expulsion from Hell (2001)

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Spanish World Rights (Alianza), Russia (Text), Portugal (Ulisseia), France (Verdier), Netherlands (Arbeiderspers), Norway (Aschehoug), Czech Republic (Academia), Hungary (Ulpius Haz), Bulgaria (Lege Artis), Greece (Polis)