The debut novel by Slovenian's most important author of his generation.
It's Carnival time 2012, and the Slovenian city of Maribor is European Capital of Culture. In an attempt to maximize profit, local politicians and showman peddle every possible art form. Amidst the hype, dramatist Adam Bely and Cuban-Austrian journalist Rosa Portero pursue a secret mission: to track down and overthrow the sinister octopus of thirteen selected persons that seems to be in control. On the way, they encounter a variety of important citizens, all entangled in a web of corruption and lies. In the tradition of Bulgakov, Gogol and Kafka Aleš Šteger lets the forces of good and evil collide in this grandiose literary thriller. This is a debut novel filled with striking personae, haunting images and a grotesque plot. It proves, in the end, to be a journey into the heart of a European darkness.
»A sophisticated mix of fantasy-thriller and political satire.«
»Simply one of the most enjoyable poets to read in Europe right now, Aleš Šteger is cultivated and often brilliant poet. He maintains an air of philosophical sophistication while imbuing his work with a laconic nature and aberrant minimalism that makes it distinct and vidid in the memory. A leading light in the rich Slovenian poetry community.«
3:AM Magazine, Maintenant #45
»Šteger focuses on things, a central concern of European philosophy ever since Husserl, and of European poetry since Rilke. Šteger takes an original approach to this question by not systematically pursuing the “thing-in-itself” and attempting to bring words as close as possible to it, as Francis Ponge did.«
»Aleš Šteger did in the Slovenian what Michel Houllebecq did in the French literary cosmos: with sarcasm and grotesque he took revenge on the world of media, journalism, literature, theatre, law, politics and many others.«
Gabriela Babnik, Delo daily newspaper
»Absolution is the great theme of Slovenians. At least on a rhetorical level. Do you want to forgive? And do you truly want to be forgiven? Regardless of the answer you should read Aleš Šteger's novel Odpusti.«
Večer daily newspaper
»You simply have to surrender to this book. The reading will be full of suspense, comparable with Dan Brown - only much richer in style and vocabulary.«
Agata Tomažič, Pogledi Review for Culture
»With references to Bulgakov and Gogol consisting of a string of grotesque scenes - right to the spectacular finale.«
English and German translation
Aleš Šteger, born in 1973, is the most translated Slovenian author of his generation, a poet, essayist and novelist. He belongs to a generation of writers that started to publish right after the fall of Yugoslavia. His first poetry collection 'Šahovnice ur' (1995) was sold out in three weeks after publication and indicated a new generation of Slovenian artists and writers. In addition to his artistic achievements Šteger has also achieved recognition as a translator, a co-founder and he was the initiator and programme director of the international poetry festival Days of Poetry and Wine and as an editor of the Koda theory imprint. Šteger's literary efforts have been aimed at exploring the relations between literature and other fine arts, including visual arts and music. Aleš Šteger is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and scholarships, amongst which the title 'Chevalier dans le ordre des Arts et des Lettres' from the French State. He is a member of the 'Akademie der Künste in Berlin'. Šteger's award-winning books have been translated into 16 languages and his poems have appeared in 'The New Yorker', 'Die ZEIT', 'Neue Zürcher Zeitung', 'TLS' and many others. Among other prizes and honours his English translation of 'Knjiga reči' ('The Book of Things', BOA Editions, 2010) won two mayor U.S. translation awards (BTBA award and AATSEL). As a translator Aleš Šteger has translated Gottfried Benn, Peter Huchel, Ingeborg Bachmann or Durs Grünbein among others. The philosophical and lyrical sophistication of his poems, along with his work as a leading book editor (he is founder of the Beletrina Academic Press) and festival organizer, earned Šteger a reputation that quickly traveled beyond the borders of Slovenia. The international reach of his work seems appropriate considering its international concerns and refusal to acknowledge limits to, or boundaries of, art, thought, and even genre. Although grounded in and growing from his home country, Šteger’s work in multiple genres and on many fronts testifies to his growing stature as one of Central Europe’s most essential literary figures. (Read Central)