Nominated by:

Universitäts-und Landesbibliothek Bonn, Germany

Stadtbibliothek Bremen, Germany

Stadtbücherei Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Leipziger Stadtische Bibliotheken, Germany

Publisher of nominated edition:

Pushkin Press, UK

Before the Feast

Saša Stanišić    

Translated from the original German by Anthea Bell

We are sad. We don’t have a ferryman any more. The ferryman is dead. Two lakes, no ferryman. You can’t get to the islands now unless you have a boat. Or unless you are a boat.

It’s the night before the Feast in the village of Fürstenfelde (population: declining), but not everyone is asleep. The local artist, wearing an evening dress and gum-boots, goes down to the lake under cover of darkness. The village archivist is kept awake by ancient tales that threaten to take on a life of their own. A retired lieutenant-colonel weighs his pistol, and his future, in his hand. And eighteen-year-old Anna, namesake of the Feast, prepares to take her place in tomorrow’s drinking and dancing, eating and burning.

On this night of misdeeds and mischief, they are joined by a dead ferryman, a hapless bellringer, a cigarette machine, two robbers in football shirts and a vixen on the hunt – as their fates collide in the most unexpected ways.

About the Author

The highly regarded and bestselling author Sasa Stanisic was born in 1978 in what was then Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina), and currently lives in Germany. Before the Feast, his second novel, was a bestseller in Germany and won the prestigious Leipzig Book Fair Prize; his award-winning debut How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone has been translated into 30 languages.

Librarian’s Comments

The highly talented storyteller Saša Stanišić tells the story of a long night before a feast in a village in the Uckermark, a region in Northeastern Germany. The story is a mosaic of the village life. Established residents, strangers, the dead and the living, craftsmen, pensioners and many others – they all want to bring something to a close in the night before the feast. Stanišić switches among styles with a great virtuosity. The novel, outstandingly translated by Anthea Bell, won the prestigious Leipzip Book Fair Prize.

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