Short books promise the longest joy


Whe will stay from the coming book fall? Normally, the only criterion for answering this question would be a preview of the most interesting books of the season – to arouse anticipation when you read them. But this time it can be said with certainty that we will remember the Frankfurt Book Fair rather than individual books. No matter whether it will actually be carried out or not. It is still missing – and there is more and more evidence to support this: the worldwide development of the corona pandemic, the postponement of the actual appearance of host country from Canada to the coming year or the growing number of declarations of waiver by publishers to participate in the fair, even for companies based in Frankfurt such as Schöffling – , the embarrassment of trying to carry it out will be remembered; but if it does take place, it will be the embarrassment of the actual implementation, which cannot have anything to do with what the book fair has so far been valued for. With inlet counts, distance measurements, temperature controls and mouthguard adjustments. There will hardly be time left to consider what the books should be about.

Seen in this light, it can be called cheap that some of the most promising books from the publishers’ autumn programs are short – so short that each reading takes no more than a few hours. Of course, none of them have been written to reflect the current situation, but one can imagine that the publishers would like to see their authors’ desire for brevity afterwards. Contrary to initial expectations, not big classics of world literature have become Corona winners – apart from children’s and young people’s books, with which the parents wanted to keep their offspring tied to employment, there were reportedly no winners on the book market. The industry is starving, and short fiction promises more remedies than fat tome, because you can easily ask for a price of nineteen euros for a new publication of just 128 pages, for a book six times longer, namely eight hundred pages long, like Flaubert’s “Lehrjahre the masculinity ”(this is the name of his novel“ L’Éducation sentimentale ”in the new translation by Elisabeth Edl published by Hanser on September 21), but not six times as much, but only twice, namely 38 euros. And that’s not even a bad thing, considering that Ulrike Draesner’s “Schwitters” (Penguin, August 24) with its almost five hundred pages should only cost 25 euros. This book is closely related to the 128-page work mentioned: both are virtuoso narrated novels about famous artists.

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