The Interim (Paperback)

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The Interim By Wolfgang Hilbig, Isabel Fargo Cole (Translator) Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Beware, Hilbig’s gut-wrenching prose may haunt you for days. C. and fellow countrymen living in the German Democratic Republic after WW2 are expected to agreeably do their assigned jobs; after all, only those who experienced the Holocaust have legitimate reason to complain. Assigned to a prestigious factory job requiring almost no real work, C. fails, spectacularly. Demoted to lowly jobs, he finds time to write and publish poetry. C.’s poetry gains international recognition, and he is allowed to spend several years in Berlin and elsewhere doing poetry readings. He often returns the GDR to visit his girlfriend and mother, but whether he’s there or in Germany, he relentlessly tells himself he is worthless. Frequent heavy drinking exacerbates C.’s self-denigration. Eventually facing the choice of life in Berlin with one woman or life in the GDR with another, C. is paralyzed and confused, taking trains from one city to another, and finally in circles. The Interim is a dark novel by a famous German author, perfectly befitting dark times.

— Kay Wosewick

November 2021 Indie Next List

“A transcendent reading experience about a German culture cleaved in two, and a man trying to find his way through the middle. A masterpiece of one of European literature’s finest authors.”
— Matt Keliher, SubText Books, St. Paul, MN


"Comic and terrifying and profound." --Rachel Kushner, The Guardian (Best Books 2021)

C. is a wretched grump, an anguished patron of bars, brothels, and train stations. He is also an acclaimed East German writer. Dogged by writer's block, remorse, and national guilt in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, he leaves the monochromatic existence of the GDR for the neon excess of the West. There at least the novelty of his origins grant him easy money and minor celebrity, if also a deflating sense of complacency. With his visa expired and several relationships hanging in the balance, C. travels back and forth, mentally and physically, between two Germanys, contemplating diverging visions of the world and what they mean for people like him: alienated and aimless witnesses to history.

This monumental novel from one of the greatest chroniclers of postwar Germany, masterfully translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, interrogates with bitter wit and singular brilliance the detritus of twentieth-century life: addiction, consumerism, God, pay-per-view pornography, selfishness, statelessness, and above all else, the writer's place in a "century of lies."

Product Details
ISBN: 9781949641424
ISBN-10: 1949641422
Publisher: Two Lines Press
Publication Date: April 19th, 2022
Pages: 290
Language: English