My Year in the No-Man'S-Bay

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9780374217556: My Year in the No-Man'S-Bay

In his latest novel, acclaimed author Peter Handke tells the story of an Austrian writer who explores the world and describes his many severed relationships--ranging from a fragile connection with his son to a failed marriage to a doomed love with a former Miss Yugoslavia. This is a mysterious, haunting work, considered somewhat autobiographical.

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Review:

"There was one time in my life when I experienced metamorphosis."

A novel that begins with a sentence like this and also features a main character named Gregor obviously has serious ambitions from the get-go. But readers of Austrian writer Peter Handke's previous fiction would expect nothing less. Handke, author of The Left-Handed Woman, Slow Homecoming, and Repetition was also responsible for co-writing German director Wim Wenders's magical exploration of fallen angels, Wings of Desire. In all of his work, plot and character are subsumed by concerns about language, meaning, and the process of reflection. My Year in the No-Man's-Bay is another example of Handke's personal obsessions and his unorthodox literary style. The plot, such as it is, features a middle-aged writer named Gregor K. (a nod to Kafka's famous protagonist in The Metamorphosis) who lives in a Paris suburb. Gregor sets out to write about the metamorphosis he himself experienced 20 years earlier from active artist--a molder of fiction--to passive chronicler of the world as he sees it. As he remembers his various love affairs, his failed marriage, his relationship with his children, he also struggles with the shape of the current novel he is working on. Not a book to be picked up casually, My Year in No-Man's-Bay is demanding, abstract, and so intensely introspective as to be occasionally claustrophobic. Still, readers interested in this kind of meta-fiction will no doubt find much to admire in Handke's novel.

Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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Peter Handke; Krishna Winston
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux (T) (1998)
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