Clemens J. Setz

The Comfort of Round Things - Stories

With illustrations
(German title: Der Trost runder Dinge)
ca. 320 pages
Clemens J. Setz
Foto: Clemens J. Setz
© Max Zerrahn

Clemens J. Setz, born 1982, lives in Graz.

»As evil as Nabokov, as virtuosic as David Foster Wallace.« Welt am Sonntag

»One of the highest hopes of German literature.« FAZ

Prizes received for his work:

Heinrich von Kleist Prize 2020

Berliner Literaturpreis 2019

Merck-Kakehashi-Award 2018 (for Indigo)

Literaturpreis der Steiermark 2017

Wilhelm Raabe-Literaturpreis 2015

Longlisted for the German Book Prize 2015 (for Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre)

Literaturpreis des Kulturkreises der deutschen Wirtschaft 2013

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2012 (for Indigo)

Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2011 (for Die Liebe zur Zeit des Mahlstädter Kindes)

Literature Prize of the City of Bremen 2010

Shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2009 (for Die Frequenzen)

Ernst-Willner-Preis 2008 at the Ingeborg-Bachmann-Wettbewerb

Sold to

Russia (Symposium), France (Actes Sud), Italy (La Nave di Teseo), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Greece (Gutenberg)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Griot)

On the absurd and the grotesque of human coexistence


An Alsatian soldier in the First World War discovers the constellation of the Great Young Kid in the night sky, but it is so awful that he can’t tell anyone about it. A young man, who has fallen in love with the blind Anja, discovers that her apartment is covered with insults from floor to ceiling. Marcel, sixteen years old, leaves his mobile number behind in the toilet-stall of a sex shop along with the name Suzy.

The completely unexpected smashes into the lives of Clemens Setz’ figures. Their creator compassionately, almost tenderly, tells their stories. Through trapdoors he allows us glimpses into the puzzling occurrences and secret abysses of everyday life, while we run into revenants and sentences that make us click our tongues. The Comfort of Round Things is a book full of will-o-the-wisps and false floors – radically told and full of thrilling details.


»Alarming and surreally beautiful« John Burnside, Times Literary Supplement

»It’s inevitable that Setz will be compared to Thomas Pynchon, for his narrative has a similar complexity, nuance and, yes, even paranoia.« Kirkus Reviews

»Clemens J. Setz’s latest collection of stories leads us on a highly comical tour through the dark cosmos of compulsive disorders.« Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»An all around round thing.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»Despite their avant-garde playfulness, the stories keep focusing on fundamental emotional states such as benevolence, panic, trust and loneliness.« Oliver Jungen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Setz attends to his sensitive, mostly male characters with true tenderness. He does show them in undignified situations and does seem to take joy in the absurdity of their earnestness, but he never makes fun of them or exploits their irrationality for cheap punchlines.« Jan Jekal, taz. die tageszeitung

»Apart from narrative virtuosity and the routine of the bizarre, Clemens J. Setz’s collection of stories, The Comfort of Round Things, also offers expeditions into the depths of the human condition.« Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau

»It’s rare to find literature that showcases the precarious ›world generator‹ in our heads with so much insight.« Juliane Liebert, DIE ZEIT

»The author increases our awareness for the fact that we don’t all see the same thing – and this is what makes reading [The Comfort of Round Things] an adventure.« Daniela Strigl, Deutschlandfunk

»With this book on your lap, you feel like there’s a secret hiding behind even the most mundane of things. You might look up in surprise – on the train, on the park bench, at the kitchen table – to glance around suspiciously and expectantly all at once.« Michael Wolf, nachtkritik.de

»If it were possible: You would close your eyes while reading this book and entrust yourself fully to these stories. […] New worlds of German literature open.« Klaus Kastberger, Die Presse, Wien

»Radical and excitingly different: Reading Clemens J. Setz is a gamble, if there ever was one. His volume of stories The Comfort of Round Things disturbs you in an equally fantastic and frightful way.« Dagmar Kaindl, Buchkultur

»The Comfort of Round Things is a logical candidate for the 2019 Austrian Book Prize.« Peter Pisa, Kurier

»Every single story out of this book contains surprising formulations, grotesque plots, crazy, astonishing metaphors, literary allusions to, for example, Franz Kafka and David Foster Wallace, and wordplay, but also brutality and ruthlessness.« Joachim Dicks, NDR

Other publications

Bot/Bot (2018)

Rights available

Die Stunde zwischen Frau und Gitarre/The Hour Between Woman and Guitar (2015)

Sold to:

Spanish world rights (Malpaso), France (Jacqueline Chambon), Italy (La Nave di Teseo), Bulgaria (Paradox)

Indigo/Indigo (2012)

Sold to:

USA (W. W. Norton / Liveright), UK (Serpent's Tail), Chinese complex rights (China Times), France (Jacqueline Chambon), Italy (La Nave di Teseo), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Japan (Kokusho Kankokai), Czech Republic (Fra), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Funtasy), Croatia (Hena Com)

Die Liebe zur Zeit des Mahlstädter Kindes/Love in the Times of the Mahlstädter Child (2011)

Sold to:

Arabic world rights (Al'Asreya), France (Actes Sud / Jacqueline Chambon), Denmark (Vandkunsten), Czech Republic (Fra), Hungary (Europa), Bulgaria (Funtasy), Romania (Univers), Macedonia (Blesok)

Domestic Rights Sales: German Audiobook (Griot)