On September 21, August Prize-winning Swedish novelist Steve Sem-Sandberg & translator Saskia Vogel join us for a virtual discussion on W. A Novel, out on June 28 from The Overlook Press! They’ll discuss the writing and translation of this new literary literary reimagining of one of modern literature’s touchstone texts — the play Woyzeck— hailed as a “sharp and hypersensitive novel about abandonment and violence…a fantastic, spellbinding, and terrifying book” (Dagens Nyheter).
Considered the first modern drama and based on true events, Woyzeck tells the story of a loyal soldier and survivor of the Napoleonic Wars who, in a fit of jealous rage, kills the woman he loves, written in 1836 by Georg Büchner and unfinished at his death at just 23 years old. Sem-Sandberg’s W grippingly recounts the lovers’ relationship, the murder case, and the execution, unfolding as the soldier W. struggles to recount the events of his life. He grasps at understanding and experiences feelings of time and timelessness; he finds patterns and repetitions, but these are of no interest to those determining his fate.
Bringing new light to this story from court documents from the original case, Sem-Sandberg masterfully sustains a rich period atmosphere though poetic and controlled prose even down to the choice of pronouns, as the soldier is held at a cold distance in court proceedings when addressed with the formal, capitalized “You.” Against a landscape devastated by inhumanity and greed and, yet, which manages to sustain hope, W. tells a ruthless, moving, and utterly relevant story of a soldier fighting to make something of the life given to him.This event will take place as a Zoom webinar; please ask questions in the chat or send them in advance to email@example.com. Registration is required; please sign up at the link above. This conversation will be recorded and available later to stream on our Virtual Programming page and on our YouTube channel.