Zandschower Klinken / Zandschow. Novel
Suhrkamp Verlag, February 2021
This book was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2021. As the media partner for the Prize, we publish information on all six shortlisted books.
Bengt Claasen is sitting in his car, all his earthly possessions in the boot. In front of him, on the dashboard, sits the collar that belonged to his deceased dog. Wherever it falls down, he is going to stop and start a new life. He drives as slowly and carefully as he can and eventually, he reaches Zandschow – a tiny village in the far north with a fire-fighting pond as its centre.
He quickly realises: The villagers follow a strict weekly plan, on Thursdays, for example, twenty plastic swans are set adrift on the pond and they celebrate festivals underneath artificial palm trees in their ‘lagoon’. And anyway: The people here no longer put up with the precarious conditions way out in the sticks. Their Zandschow is Zanzibar, you can be a pauper here and still live like a king, amongst a lot of craziness.
With imagination running wild and a lot of humour Zandschow tells the story of a solidary community that pulls itself up by its own bootstraps – defiant and stubborn, free and independent. He creates a utopia within our globalised present and finds a language for it that is compellingly musical.
Thomas Kunst, born in 1965, works as a library assistant at the German National Library. He has received numerous awards for his prose and poetry, amongst them the Meran Poetry Prize 2014. In 2018, he was awarded the Lower Austria Prize for Literature for an excerpt from Zandschower Klinken.
Read an English-language sample translation, by Samuel Schulenburg here.