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Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl (Boxed Set)
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Book Discussions (general) > Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl, by Uwe Johnson

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message 1: by Trevor (last edited Dec 07, 2018 10:30AM) (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl

Anniversaries

Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages: 1720
Translated from the German by Damion Searls

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.

Volume 1 of Anniversaries takes places between August 1967 and April 1968, Volume 2 between April 1968 and August 1968. Individual volumes are not sold separately.


message 2: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
"[Anniversaries] requires a hard chair, a fresh pen and your full attention — for attention is its great subject...Searls’s superb translation inscribes Johnson’s restlessness and probing into word choice and the structures of the sentences themselves, which quiver with the anxiety to get things right, to see the world as it is.” —Parul Sehgal, The New York Times, on Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl


message 3: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
The Goethe Institut has announced that this year's winner of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, awarded for the best literary translation from German into English published in the US the previous year, is the very deserving Damion Searls for his translation of Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries.

Great to see the recognition for this work and this translation -- especially since it wasn't eligible for other leading translation prizes such as the Man Booker International Prize and the (American) National Book Award for Translated Literature (both are limited to living authors) or the Best Translated Book Award (because there was a previous translation (of sorts ...)).
The prize will be presented on 23 May.


James Murphy (gracehoper) | 4 comments Today reaching p1098, I've been involved on a daily basis with this novel for some time and am quite impressed with it. While I can't speak to the translation, I think as a novel it's very fine. It's much more than what I expected. I like the structure, and I very much like that some of its parts are written in various styles and different points of view. It's long as hell, and it's not always an easy read, but Anniversaries is worthwhile reading.


message 5: by Paul (last edited May 02, 2019 09:22AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) Do people recommend reading it in one go - or in batches (even over a year?) or bursts (e.g. the different volumes)?


message 6: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I did it all in one go, and it worked well. However, I am going to reread it one day at a time. I think it will work very well that way also, because one of its great features is its beautiful exploration of the passage of time on a grand scale as well as day by day, hour by hour. I think either will work fine, but if you want bite sized I am confident it will work well. It’s only two or three pages per day if you break it up.

I will be doing some kind of read along/year long tracking on The Mookse and the Gripes come August.


James Murphy (gracehoper) | 4 comments I'm reading in sections 10, 12, 14 pages a day without losing any continuity or comprehension. But I read everything that way. With Anniversaries you just have to make note of the many characters.


message 8: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments If one did not find Proust engaging is one likely to be drawn to Anniversaries?


message 9: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I think they are very different in style, Wendy. I think you would.


message 10: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments You’ve twisted my arm, Trevor. I’m happy to see you here, Paul.


James Murphy (gracehoper) | 4 comments Anniversaries is not as dense or meditative as Proust. It's written in a variety of styles with more energy and play. Some sections--days if you will--have portions which are completely dialogue.

Both are about memory, but Proust dives much deeper while Anniversaries is, in effect, a family saga.


message 12: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments I am a sucker for a family saga and I really like to hear family stories from WWII Europe. I’m going to read a day at a time, I think.


message 13: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
It's how I got through Proust, 10 pages a day (15 on weekends) for a whole year. I wasn't going to read Anniversaries but I am starting to feel the pull. However I still have to finish Kolyma Stories that I am reading one story every now and then. I find some of those stories hard to stomach so it may take me a long time to finish. And I still have to read Ulysses which was my goal for 2019... Anniversaries may have to wait.


message 14: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Trevor wrote: "I will be doing some kind of read along/year long tracking on The Mookse and the Gripes come August. .."

Trevor could we do that here too?


message 15: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I’m trying to work our details, including practical ones, but I definitely think the more the merrier.


message 16: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason (uberzensch) | 83 comments Sounds great! I was planning to start reading along with the actual timeline in the book - one day at a time starting in August. Would love the company!


message 17: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "Sounds great! I was planning to start reading along with the actual timeline in the book - one day at a time starting in August. Would love the company!"

Cool. I'm in. Will order my copy right away.


message 18: by WndyJW (last edited May 03, 2019 02:29PM) (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments I logged on to see if anyone was waiting until August 21 to start. I like that Idea. I was five years old August 21, 1967 and would turn six 2 months later. I like the idea of reading what happed each day 52 years ago. Although writing that last sentence made more aware of how old I am, (that and this damp, cold weather.)

The Mookse and the Gripes and nyrb are both open groups, it seems we should be able to join in with the M&G group or they could visit here for Anniversaries instead of a few of us copying and pasting in both groups, then replying to two different discussions about the exact same day.


message 19: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Since Anniversaries is a NYRB Classic I think it belongs here :-). However I'm not sure if the Mookse and the Gripes members will want to join this group just to follow one book discussion if they don't generally read other NYRBs. I'm guessing those who do are already part of this group. I'm sure Trevor will come up with a good logistical plan.


message 20: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments I agree that we should have the discussion here. I think most of the M&G members would discuss the book here, but they would have to all agree to discuss it here or it wouldn’t work for them.


message 21: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
The discussion I will be hosting will be on my blog, but anything here goes as well.


message 22: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Trevor wrote: "The discussion I will be hosting will be on my blog, but anything here goes as well."

Oh! Ok, then we go to your blog.

You must never sleep, Trevor.


message 23: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Antonomasia invited M&G members reading this to join us here.


message 24: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I think here is a good place too, and it may be that here gets more activity in general than my blog. I’m going to try to put some kind of thing together there, but conversation should happen where it naturally flows. I don’t mean my comment above to sound like it should be any one place or the other. I am just excited to read it again more slowly and with company!


message 25: by Doug (new) - added it

Doug I MIGHT have to join the 'day a day' read along, since I've had my copy for 6 months now and haven't gotten around to it yet...it LOOKS so daunting. Will depend upon whether I can get through the Booker noms by Aug. 21. :-(


message 26: by Paul (last edited May 03, 2019 11:19PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) Reading a day at a time for me may make remembering who is who hard (I have enough trouble remembering the names from the last chapter when I read a book over a couple of days)

I found a helpful character list and address book on line - unfortunately only in German though (and so German page numbers). Anything comparable in English anyone knows of?

http://literaturlexikon.uni-saarland....

Having brought the print edition - it's not terribly user friendly. They could have split volumes 1 and 2 into two separate books rather than one 800+ page paperback. I've ended up buying the Kindle as well, as feels it will be better suited to a reading-a-day.


message 27: by Ang (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ang | 2 comments I would like to join in too. Probably kindle!!!


message 28: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Anniversaries is on sale (30% off) for 3 days only! Get your copy if you don’t already have it.

https://www.nyrb.com/products/anniver...


message 29: by sisilia (new) - added it

sisilia (sisilia9) | 53 comments I am looking forward to this! :)


message 30: by Doug (new) - added it

Doug Paul wrote: "Reading a day at a time for me may make remembering who is who hard (I have enough trouble remembering the names from the last chapter when I read a book over a couple of days)

I found a helpful c..."


Thanks for the link Paul... Lord ,that's a LOT of characters... but I can use it and fill in little descriptors as I go along.

The American edition, at least, IS two separate volumes... but even then they seem massive!


message 31: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments The volumes are still heavy. I will only be reading these books at home.


message 32: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
I received my copies today and yes they certainly are clunkers. In hindsight I should have gotten it in ebook format. I may still do so.


message 33: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
I will be hosting a readalong over at The Mookse and the Gripes starting August 21. I'll be reading each day for the year, hopefully on that day, and will have a weekly post for anyone who wants to join in to talk about that week's events.

I don't know if many will be joining in, but all are welcome to participate as much or as little as works. See my introductory post here.


message 34: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason (uberzensch) | 83 comments So excited for this! I was also planning on reading Stalingrad soon, but don’t know if I can take both on at once.


message 35: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
The day by day reading of Anniversaries usually means only three or four pages per day, so there will still be plenty of time for Stalingrad!


message 36: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason (uberzensch) | 83 comments True, but I’m mostly worried about losing track of characters and names!


message 37: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
I was hoping we could read along here. The monthly book discussions don't seem to be a big hit. I thought maybe we could put that on hiatus for a year while we read The Anniversaries.


message 38: by Mirko (new)

Mirko | 77 comments Definitely looks like an interesting read. Been debating whether to participate as I usually don't do well with reading different books at the same time.


message 39: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments I don’t either, Mirko, but as Trevor says it will only be 3 or 4 pages every day so it won’t take anytime and since we are reading daily we won’t lose track of characters.

I will be joining Mookse and Gripes reading.


message 40: by carissa (new)

carissa I plan on joining this group M & G read. It will be a new and unusual experience to read sooooslow.


message 41: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Dunn | 71 comments Is the print very small?


message 42: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 288 comments Not smaller than usual.


message 43: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Dunn | 71 comments Thank you.


message 44: by Trevor (new)

Trevor (mookse) | 1425 comments Mod
It is the week of August 21!

I've posted the first week's entry here on my blog, though of course you should participate however you like, including writing thoughts here.

I've been in touch with Mr. Searls who recommends folks read the first, undated section on August 20, as that is the date of that entry, so that is what I'll be doing . . . tomorrow! I've read that section five or six times since I got the book last year, and I think it's a great start to the book. I hope to see some of your thoughts!


message 45: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason (uberzensch) | 83 comments So excited to get started on this!


message 46: by Louise (new) - added it

Louise | 491 comments Mod
Who from this group will be reading along? It would be great to have some comments here as well as following Trevor's blog. It's the kind of book that is easy to savor a few pages a day.


message 47: by Paul (new) - rated it 2 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) I am, but am commenting on Trevor’s blog.


message 48: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah | 38 comments I will...but I’ll be late to the party. I’m on vacation until next week and didn’t get either this or Stalingrad as an ebook. Only packed S as it took up less room of the two- Ha ha. It also reads the same way- easily digestible nuggets. I should be able to catch up though.


message 49: by Ang (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ang | 2 comments Paul wrote: "I am, but am commenting on Trevor’s blog."

Same here.

Sarah, FYI, the kindle sample goes up to the October 21st entry so that could get your through your vacation and more.


message 50: by Liz M (last edited Aug 24, 2019 04:03AM) (new) - added it

Liz M | 22 comments I am reading Anniversaries! I am more likely to comment on Litsy than anywhere else, but will also post here occasionally.


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