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Old Rendering Plant (Paperback)
"East German writer Wolfgang Hilbig is the master of atmosphere and deep inner delving. His words lead to almost tangible sensations: choking soot and dust in last year’s Sleep of the Righteous, and the slime and film of tallow in Old Rendering Plant. How rare it is to encounter such sensory pleasure in a book that wrestles under the weight of history and memory and guilt and secrets." -- Chris— From Chris' Favorites of 2017
What falsehoods do we believe as children? And what happens when we realize they are lies--possibly heinous ones? In Old Rendering Plant Wolfgang Hilbig turns his febrile, hypnotic prose to the intersection of identity, language, and history's darkest chapters, immersing readers in the odors and oozings of a butchery that has for years dumped biological waste into a river. It starts when a young boy becomes obsessed with an empty and decayed coal plant, coming to believe that it is tied to mysterious disappearances throughout the countryside. But as a young man, with the building now turned into an abattoir processing dead animals, he revisits this place and his memories of it, realizing just how much he has missed. Plumbing memory's mysteries while evoking historic horrors, Hilbig gives us a gothic testament for the silenced and the speechless. With a tone indebted to Poe and a syntax descended from Joyce, this suggestive, menacing tale refracts the lost innocence of youth through the heavy burdens of maturity.
About the Author
Wolfgang Hilbig (1941-2007) was one of the major German writers to emerge in the postwar era. Though raised in East Germany, he proved so troublesome to the authorities that in 1985 he was granted permission to emigrate west. The author of over 20 books, he received virtually all of Germany's major literary prizes, capped by the 2002 Georg Buchner Prize, Germany's highest literary honor. Isabel Fargo Cole is a U.S.-born, Berlin-based writer and translator. Her translations include Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006), All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011), The Jew Car by Franz Fuhmann (Seagull Books, 2013), and The Sleep of the Righteous by Wolfgang Hilbig. The recipient of a prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Grant in 2013, she is the initiator and co-editor of No-mans-land.org, an online magazine for new German literature in English.