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A New York Review Books Original In 1905 the young Swiss writer Robert Walser arrived in Berlin to join his older brother Karl, already an important stage-set designer, and immediately threw himself into the vibrant social and cultural life of the city. Berlin Stories collects his alternately celebratory, droll, and satirical observations on every aspect of the bustling German capital, from its theaters, cabarets, painters' galleries, and literary salons, to the metropolitan street, markets, the Tiergarten, rapid-service restaurants, and the electric tram. Originally appearing in literary magazines as well as the feuilleton sections of newspapers, the early stories are characterized by a joyous urgency and the generosity of an unconventional guide. Later pieces take the form of more personal reflections on the writing process, memories, and character studies. All are full of counter-intuitive images and vignettes of startling clarity, showcasing a unique talent for whom no detail was trivial, at grips with a city diving headlong into modernity.


CHF 19.15

An emergency meeting of the Mortimer Square Garden Committee has been convened to discuss a most alarming matter: Someone has been digging in the garden and making off with buckets of dirt. Miss Angela Chesney is sure that a gang of boys from run-down Catford Street is to blame. But Angela's sister, Olivia, isn't so sure. Olivia has always wondered why the neighborhood children-the "sparrows" she sometimes watches from the window of her house-are kept out of the private garden. Don't they have a right to enjoy the place, too? But neither Angela nor Olivia has any idea what sent the neighborhood waif Lovejoy Mason and her few friends in search of good, rich earth. Still less do they imagine where their investigation of the incident will lead them-to a struggling restaurant, a bombed-out church, and at the heart of it all, a hidden garden.


CHF 13.30

An NYRB Classics Original

It is a sunny summer Sunday in a remote Swiss village, and a christening is being celebrated at a lovely old farmhouse. One of the guests notes an anomaly in the fabric of the venerable edifice: a blackened post that has been carefully built into a trim new window frame. Thereby hangs a tale, one that, as the wise old grandfather who has lived all his life in the house proceeds to tell it, takes one chilling turn after another, while his audience listens in appalled silence. Featuring a cruelly overbearing lord of the manor and the oppressed villagers who must render him service, an irreverent young woman who will stop at nothing, a mysterious stranger with a red beard and a green hat, and, last but not least, the black spider, the tale is as riveting and appalling today as when Jeremias Gotthelf set it down more than a hundred years ago. The Black Spider can be seen as a parable of evil in the heart or of evil at large in society (Thomas Mann saw it as foretelling the advent of Nazism), or as a vision, anticipating H. P. Lovecraft, of cosmic horror. There's no question, in any case, that it is unforgettably creepy.

CHF 18.00

A new translation of the best and most provocative short stories by the author of Transit and The Seventh Cross.

Best known for her anti-fascist novels such as The Seventh Cross and the existential thriller Transit, Anna Seghers was also a gifted storyteller. The short stories she wrote throughout her life portray her social and mythic vision, and constitute an important and fascinating element of her work. This selection of Seghers's best stories, written between 1925 and 1965, reflects the range of her creativity over the years and includes her most famous stories, such as the autobiographical "Dead Girls' Class Trip" (1946), as well as those translated into English for the first time, like "Jans Must Die" (1925). Here are psychologically penetrating stories about young men corrupted by desperation, women bound by circumstance, as well as enigmatic tales of bewilderment and enchantment, stories based on myths and legends like "The Best Tales of Woynok the Thief" (1938), "The Legends of Artemis" (1938), and "The Three Trees" (1940). Seghers used the German language in especially unconventional and challenging ways in her stories, and Margot Bettauer Dembo's sensitive and skilled translation preserves this distinction.

CHF 20.90

From the author of The Summer Book and creator of the Moomins, an off-beat novel about a retirement community in sunny Florida.

In works like The Summer Book and The True Deceiver, as well as in her many short stories, Tove Jansson was drawn again and again to the everyday life of the aged. Not as a group apart, but as full-blooded people, with as many jealousies, urges, and joys as any other group. And so it is no wonder that in her travels through America in the 1970s, she became fascinated with what was then a particularly American instution, the retirement home, where older people live in their particular tightly knit worlds. She describes this world through several of its residents and employees making their way in an America riven by cultural divides and facing the death of its dream, as they confront their own mortality.

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A landmark of 20th Century literature about New York in the late 1960s, now in English for the first time.


Late in 1967, Uwe Johnson set out to write a book that would take the unusual form of a chapter for every day of the ongoing year. It would be the tale of Gesine Cresspahl, a thirty-four-year-old single mother who is a German émigré to Manhattan's Upper West Side, and of her ten-year-old daughter, Marie-a story of work and school, of friends and lovers and the countless small encounters with neighbors and strangers that make up big-city life. An everyday tale, but also a tale of the events of the day, as gleaned by Gesine from The New York Times: Johnson could hardly foresee the convulsions of 1968, but some of the news-the racial unrest roiling America, the escalating war in Vietnam-was sure to be news for some time yet to come. Finally, it would be a tale told by Gesine to Marie about Gesine's childhood in a small north German town, of her independent and enterprising father, of her troubled mother, of Nazi Germany (Gesine was born the year Hitler came to power) and World War II and Soviet retribution and the grimly regulated realities of Communist East Germany. An ambitious historical novel as well as a wonderfully observed New York novel, Anniversaries would take in the unsettled world of the present along with the twentieth century's ­disastrous past, while vividly depicting the struggle of a loving, though hardly uncomplicated mother and a bright, indomitably curious girl to understand and care for each other and to shape a human world.

Gesine and Marie are among the most memorable and engaging characters in literature, and Anniversaries, at once monumental and intimate, sweeping and full of incident, stylistically adventurous and endlessly absorbing, is quite simply one of the great books of our time.

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Françoise Gilot's candid memoir remains the most revealing portrait of Picasso written, and gives fascinating insight into the intense and creative life shared by two modern artists.

Françoise Gilot was in her early twenties when she met the sixty-one-year-old Pablo Picasso in 1943. Brought up in a well-to-do upper-middle-class family, who had sent her to Cambridge and the Sorbonne and hoped that she would go into law, the young woman defied their wishes and set her sights on being an artist. Her introduction to Picasso led to a friendship, a love affair, and a relationship of ten years, during which Gilot gave birth to Picasso's two children, Paloma and Claude. Gilot was one of Picasso's muses; she was also very much her own woman, determined to make herself into the remarkable painter she did indeed become.

Life with Picasso, written with Carlton Lake and published in 1961, is about Picasso the artist and Picasso the man. We hear him talking about painting and sculpture, his life, his career, as well as other artists, both contemporaries and old masters. We glimpse Picasso in his many and volatile moods, dismissing his work, exultant over his work, entertaining his various superstitions, being an anxious father. But Life with Picasso is not only a portrait of a great artist at the height of his fame; it is also a picture of a talented young woman of exacting intelligence at the outset of her own notable career.

CHF 22.05

This tale about seduction, obsession, family, and the confines of capitalism is one of director Pier Paolo Pasolini's most fascinating creations, based on his transcendent film of the same name.

Theorem is the most enigmatic of Pier Paolo Pasolini's four novels. The book started as a poem and took shape both as a work of fiction and a film, also called Theorem, released the same year. In short prose chapters interspersed with stark passages of poetry, Pasolini tells a story of transfiguration and trauma.

To the suburban mansion of a prosperous Milanese businessman comes a mysterious and beautiful young man who invites himself to stay. From the beginning he exercises a strange fascination on the inhabitants of the house, and soon everyone, from the busy father to the frustrated mother, from the yearning daughter to the weak-willed son to the housemaid from the country, has fallen in love with him. Then, as mysteriously as he appeared, the infatuating young man departs. How will these people he has touched so deeply do without him? Is there a passage out of the spiritual desert of modern capitalism into a new awakening, both of the senses and of the soul? Only questions remain at the end of a book that is at once a bedroom comedy, a political novel, and a religious parable.

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Contempt is a brilliant and unsettling work by one of the revolutionary masters of modern European literature. All the qualities for which Alberto Moravia is justly famous-his cool clarity of expression, his exacting attention to psychological complexity and social pretension, his still-striking openness about sex-are evident in this story of a failing marriage. Contempt (which was to inspire Jean-Luc Godard's no-less-celebrated film) is an unflinching examination of desperation and self-deception in the emotional vacuum of modern consumer society.


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The Criminal Child offers the first English translation of a key early work by Jean Genet. In 1949, in the midst of a national debate about improving the French reform-school system, Radiodiffusion Française commissioned Genet to write about his experience as a juvenile delinquent. He sent back a piece that was a paean to prison instead of the expected horrifying exposé. Revisiting the cruel hazing rituals that had accompanied his incarceration, relishing the special argot spoken behind bars, Genet bitterly denounced any improvement in the condition of young prisoners as a threat to their criminal souls. The radio station chose not to broadcast Genet's views.

"The Criminal Child" appears here with a selection of Genet's finest essays, including his celebrated piece on the art of Alberto Giacometti.

CHF 19.70

Two novellas about friendship, romance, and family by one of the finest Italian writers of the twentieth century.

Carmine, an architect, and Ida, a translator, lived together once, long ago, and even had a child, but the child died, and their relationship fell apart, and Carmine married Ninetta, and their child is Dodo, who Carmine feels is a little dull, and these days Carmine is still spending every evening with Ida, but about that Ninetta has nothing to say. Family, the first of these two novellas from the 1970s, is an examination, at first comic, progressively dark, about how time passes and life goes on and people circle round the opportunities they had but missed, missing more as they do, until finally time is up. Borghesia, about a widow who keeps acquiring and losing the Siamese cats she hopes will keep her company in her loneliness, explores similar ground, along with the confusions of feeling and domestic life that came with the loosening social strictures of the seventies. "She remembered saying that there were three things in life you should always refuse", thinks one of Ginzburg's characters, beginning to age out of youth, "Hypocrisy, resignation, and unhappiness. But it was impossible to shield yourself from those three things. Life was full of them and there was no holding them back."

CHF 18.00

A moving family biography in which the poet traces her family history back through Jim Crow, the slave trade, and all the way to the women of the Dahomey people in West Africa.

Buffalo, New York. A father's funeral. Memory.

In Generations, Lucille Clifton's formidable poetic gift emerges in prose, giving us a memoir of stark and profound beauty. Her story focuses on the lives of the Sayles family: Caroline, "born among the Dahomey people in 1822," who walked north from New Orleans to Virginia in 1830 when she was eight years old; Lucy, the first black woman to be hanged in Virginia; and Gene, born with a withered arm, the son of a carpetbagger and the author's grandmother.

Clifton tells us about the life of an African American family through slavery and hard times and beyond, the death of her father and grandmother, but also all the life and love and triumph that came before and remains even now.

Generations is a powerful work of determination and affirmation. "I look at my husband," Clifton writes, "and my children and I feel the Dahomey women gathering in my bones."

CHF 18.00