German poet Anja Kampmann's award-winning debut novel is the dazzling, heart-rending story of an oil rig worker whose closest friend goes missing, plunging him into isolation and forcing him to confront his past
One night aboard an oil drilling platform in the Atlantic, Waclaw returns to his cabin to find that his bunkmate and companion, Mátyás, has gone missing. A search of the rig confirms his fear that Mátyás has fallen into the sea.
Grief-stricken, he embarks on an epic emotional and physical journey that takes him to Morocco, to Budapest and Mátyás's hometown in Hungary, to Malta, Italy, and finally to the mining town of his childhood in Germany. Waclaw's encounters along the way with other lost and yearning souls - Mátyás's angry, grieving half-sister; lonely rig workers on shore leave; a truck driver who watches the world change from his driver's seat - bring us closer to his origins while also revealing the problems of a globalized economy dependent on waning natural resources. High as the Waters Rise is a stirring exploration of male intimacy, the nature of memory and grief, and the cost of freedom - the story of a man who stands at the margins of a society from which he has profited little, though its functioning depends on his labor.
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About the Author
Anja Kampmann was born in Hamburg and resides in Leipzig. She wrote for radio before writing a dissertation on musicality and silence in the late works of Samuel Beckett. She is the author of a collection of poems in German. High as the Waters Rise is her first novel, for which she received the Mara Cassens Prize for best German debut novel, and the Lessing Promotion Prize. She was also awarded the Bergen-Enkheim prize and was nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the German Book Prize.
Anne Posten translates prose, poetry, and drama from German. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, her translations of authors such as Peter Bichsel, Carl Seelig, Thomas Brasch, Tankred Dorst, Anna Katharina Hahn, and Paul Scheerbart have appeared with New Directions, Christine Burgin/The University of Chicago, Music and Literature, n+1, VICE, The Buenos Aires Review, FIELD, Stonecutter, and Hanging Loose, among others. She is based in New York and Berlin.
"This is a deeply impressive book which seethes and roars . . . High as the Waters Rise is written with enormous care--a heart-rending, unsentimental novel about the distance between the self and the world." --Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
"Here is an author to discover whose profound appropriation of the world by means of language would be best compared to Peter Handke's writing furore . . . Her prose's linear progression is counteracted by her restriction of tempo and memories that resemble film stills. And, thus, a space is opened to see and to hear, to feel and to smell. A space in which time itself becomes tangible..." --Tobias Lehmkuhl, Die Zeit
"The special feature of this book is that its setting is unequivocally the present day as well as an indefinable distant, timeless place. And this is because of its language, which generates the same poetic sparks from highly technical operations on open-sea oil rigs as it does from archaic mountain life . . . You can taste the present in this novel. Hyperreal perception, a somnambulistic trance and focussed in the present: in her grandiose debut novel High as the Waters Rise, Anja Kampmann recounts the odyssey of a modern migrant worker." --Helmut Böttiger, Süddeutsche Zeitung
"Anja Kampmann puts into words something for which words fail us. With High as the Waters Rise, she has succeeded in writing a highly topical novel that tells the story of the precarious day labor of our time." --Tino Dallmann, NDR Kultur Radio
"Rarely has existential loneliness found such precise linguistic expression in German-language contemporary literature as in Anja Kampmann's High as the Waters Rise." --Rainer Moritz, Die Furche
"Anja Kampmann's prose debut displays something precise and ethereal from its first movement, something poignant and poetic." --Ulrich Rüdenauer, SWR2
"A novel about uprooting in times of globalization . . . For her story about the dissolution of all ties, class affiliation, nationality, and love relationships, Anja Kampmann has chosen a poetic language . . . which succeeds in moments of enormous power." --Maike Albath, Deutschlandfunk Kultur
"This novel often reads like a long poem, floating and particularly beauteous." --DPA
"In its global reach and the beauty of its language, I found this book at times visionary - which I never thought I would say about a book which begins with men on an oil rig. It is this which makes the novel unique and just waiting to be translated into English." --Peakreads