Sounding the imaginative depths of the great German-Jewish scribe from Prague.
Deutsches Haus at NYU will present a reading on Friday, Dec. 2, at 6:30 p.m. by award-winning translator, writer, and editor Peter Wortsman of Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka. He will be joined by Tess Lewis to discuss the release of his new translation of Kafka's short prose.
In this new selection and translation, Peter Wortsman mines Franz Kafka's entire opus of short prose –including works published in the author’s brief lifetime, stories published posthumously, journals, and letters – for narratives that sound the imaginative depths of the great German-Jewish scribe from Prague. It is the first volume in English to consider his deeply strange, resonantly humane letters and journal entries alongside his classic short fiction and lyrical vignettes. Transformed is a vivid retranslation of one of Kafka’s signature stories, Die Verwandlung, commonly rendered in English as The Metamorphosis. Composed of short, black-comic parables, fables, fairy tales, reflections, as well as classic stories like In the Penal Colony, Kafka’s uncanny foreshadowing of the Twentieth Century’s nightmare, Konundrum refreshes the writer’s mythic storytelling powers for a new generation of readers.
Peter Wortsman was a Fulbright Fellow in 1973, a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellow in 1974, and a Holtzbrinck Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2010. His writing has been honored with the 1985 Beard’s Fund Short Story Award, the 2008 Gertje Potash-Suhr Prosapreis of the Society for Contemporary American Literature in German, the 2012 Gold Grand Prize for Best Travel Story of the Year in the Solas Awards Competition, and a 2014 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY). His travel reflections were selected five years in a row, 2008-2012, and again in 2016, for inclusion in The Best Travel Writing. He is the author of two books of short fiction, A Modern Way to Die (1991) and Footprints in Wet Cement (forthcoming 2017), the plays The Tattooed Man Tells All (2000) and Burning Words (2006), and the travel memoir Ghost Dance in Berlin: A Rhapsody in Gray (2013), and the novel Cold Earth Wanderers (2014). Wortsman’s numerous translations from the German include Telegrams of the Soul: Selected Prose of Peter Altenberg, Travel Pictures by Heinrich Heine, Posthumous Papers of a Living Author by Robert Musil, Peter Schlemiel, The Man Who Sold His Shadow by Adelbert von Chamisso, and Selected Prose of Heinrich von Kleist, many of which are published by Archipelago Books. He edited and translated an anthology, Tales of the German Imagination: From the Brothers Grimm to Ingeborg Bachmann, from Penguin Classics. He works as a medical and travel journalist.
Tess Lewis’ translations from French and German include works by Maja Haderlap, Peter Handke, Alois Hotschnig, Melinda Nadj Abonji, Philippe Jaccottet, and the painter Anselm Kiefer. Her recent awards include a Max Geilinger Award, the Austrian Cultural Forum NY Translation Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She also serves as an Advisory Editor for The Hudson Review and writes essays on European literature for a number of journals and newspapers including The New Criterion, The Hudson Review, World Literature Today, The American Scholar, and Bookforum.
Copies of Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka will be sold by Archipelago Books at the event.
Deutsches Haus is located at 42 Washington Mews, at the corner of University Place. Events there are free and open to the public. If you would like to attend this event, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event to ensure you get a good seat.
"Konundrum: Selected Prose of Franz Kafka" is presented in collaboration with Archipelago Books.