SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2019
AN INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
"Readers who like quiet, meditative works will enjoy this strangely affecting buddy story." --Publishers Weekly
"Rather than tying up the loose ends, she leaves them beautifully fluttering in the wind, and you do not feel lost in that experience. The writing is poetic and it's worth savouring." --Angela Caravan, Shrapnel
A bad dream leads to a strange poetic pilgrimage through Japan in this playful and profound Booker International-shortlisted novel.
Gilbert Silvester, eminent scholar of beard fashions in film, wakes up one day from a dream that his wife has cheated on him. Certain the dream is a message, and unable to even look at her, he flees - immediately, irrationally, inexplicably - for Japan. In Tokyo he discovers the travel writings of the great Japanese poet Basho. Keen to cure his malaise, he decides to find solace in nature the way Basho did. Suddenly, from Gilbert's directionless crisis there emerges a purpose: a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the poet to see the moon rise over the pine islands of Matsushima. Although, of course, unlike the great poet, he will take a train. Along the way he falls into step with another pilgrim: Yosa, a young Japanese student clutching a copy of The Complete Manual of Suicide . Together, Gilbert and Yosa travel across Basho's disappearing Japan, one in search of his perfect ending and the other a new beginning. Serene, playful, and profound, The Pine Islands is a story of the transformations we seek and the ones we find along the way.
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About the Author
"... Marion Poschmann, a multi-award-winning poet and novelist in her native Germany, now appears in English fully formed, translated by Jen Calleja, and has all the air of uncovered greatness.
The Pine Islands is a story that doesn't tie up loose ends but leaves themes scattered as needles on the forest floor, allowing the reader to spot their patterns. The best approach to this beguiling, unpredictable book is to follow Gilbert's advice on reciting poetry: "to let it affect you, and simply accept it in all its striking, irrational beauty" - John Self, The Guardian
"A funny, strange and sad read ... Marion Poschmann's writing - translated into English by Jen Calleja - is deliciously vivid ... this is a refreshing book for the curious reader" - Herald
"The German award-winning poet, Marion Poschmann has written a witty and meditative parody on the pilgrimage taken by the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. In fewer than 200 pages the reader is drawn in to an absurd and poignant narrative that begins when the protagonist, Gilbert Silvester, whimsically escapes to Japan.
Poschmann pokes fun at her characters with her pithy prose and reveals the still beauty to be found in life beneath a mask of black humour." - The Irish Times
"A quirky, unpredictable and darkly comic confrontation with mortality." - Man Booker prize Jury