By Nobel Prize Winner Peter Handke
Provocative, romantic, and restlessly exploratory, Peter Handke is one of the great writers of our time. Slow Homecoming, originally published in the late 1970s, is central to his achievement and to the powerful influence he has exercised on other writers, chief among them W.G. Sebald. A novel of self-questioning and self-discovery, Slow Homecoming is a singular odyssey, an escape from the distractions of the modern world and the unhappy consciousness, a voyage that is fraught and fearful but ultimately restorative, ending on an unexpected note of joy.
The book begins in America. Writing with the jarring intensity of his early work, Handke introduces Valentin Sorger, a troubled geologist who has gone to Alaska to lose himself in his work, but now feels drawn back home: on his way to Europe he moves in ominous disorientation through the great cities of America. The second part of the book, "The Lesson of Mont Sainte-Victoire," identifies Sorger as a projection of the author, who now writes directly about his own struggle to reconstitute himself and his art by undertaking a pilgrimage to the great mountain that Cézanne painted again and again. Finally, "Child Story" is a beautifully observed, deeply moving account of a new father-not so much Sorger or the author as a kind of Everyman-and his love for his growing daughter.
Peter Handke was born in Griffen, Austria, in 1942. He came to early prominence in the 1960s for such experimental plays as Kaspar and rapidly established himself asone of the most respected German-language writers of his generation, producing fiction, translations, memoirs, screenplays, and essays. Among his best-known novels are The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, Repetition, and My Year in the No-Man's Bay. He has directed adaptions of his novels The Left-Handed Woman and Absence and collaborated with filmmaker Wim Wenders on four films, including Wings of Desire. In addition to Slow Homecoming, NYRB Classics has also published Handke's novel Short Letter, Long Farewell. Peter Handke won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2019.
Benjamin Kunkel is the author of the novel Indecision and a founding editor of n+1 magazine.
Ralph Manheim (1907-1992) translated Günter Grass, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Hermann Hesse, and Martin Heidegger, along with many other German and French authors.