Nominated by:

Büchereien Wien, Austria

Stadtbibliothek Bremen, Germany

Publisher of nominated edition:

Riverrun, UK

Pantheon Books, USA

You Should Have Left

Daniel Kehlmann      

Translated from the German by Ross Benjamin

A chilling story of marital struggle and psychological disturbance from a master of modern European literature

On retreat in the wintry Alps with his family, a writer is optimistic about completing the sequel to his breakthrough film. Nothing to disturb him except the wind whispering around their glassy house. The perfect place to focus.

Intruding on that peace of mind, the demands of his four-year-old daughter splinter open long-simmering arguments with his wife. I love her, he writes in the notebook intended for his script. Why do we fight all the time?

Guilt and expectation strain at his concentration, and strain, too, at the walls of the house. They warp under his watch; at night, looking through the window, he sees impossible reflections on the snow outside.

Then the words start to appear in his notebook; the words he didn’t write.

Familiar and forbidding by turns, this is an electrifying experiment in form by one of Europe’s boldest writers. The ordinary struggles of a marriage transform, in Kehlmann’s hands, into a twisted fable that stays darkly in the mind.

About the author

Daniel Kehlmann  was born in Munich in 1975 and lives in Vienna, Berlin and New York. He has published six novels: Measuring the World, Me & Kaminski, Fame, F and You Should Have Left and has won numerous prizes, including the Candide Prize, the Literature Prize of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Doderer Prize, The Kleist Prize, the WELT Literature Prize, and the Thomas Mann Prize. Measuring the World was translated into more than forty languages and is one of the biggest successes in post-war German literature.

Librarians’ comments:

A curious and scary novella, finely translated, with a cleverly suggestive atmosphere.

A successful screenwriter and his family have rented a quiet holiday home for a few days but the ideas for his new project are increasingly being suppressed by irritating perceptions and strange occurrences in the house. Daniel Kehlmann’s novel begins as the story of a marital crisis and turns into a horror story.





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