It’s nice to see translations getting some attention from the larger houses – as Scott noted, Knopf is publishing David Grossman’s “To the End of the Land” soon, and just the other day I received two novels by Hans Keilson. “The Death of the Adversary” is the sort of book one would normally see from the excellent NYRB Classics, who don’t shy away from translations, but “Death” comes to us via Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Written while Hans Keilson was in hiding during World War II,The Death of the Adversary is the self-portrait of a young man helplessly fascinated by an unnamed “adversary” whom he watches rise to power in 1930s Germany. It is a tale of horror, not only in its evocation of Hitler’s gathering menace but also in its hero’s desperate attempt to discover logic where none exists. A psychological fable as wry and haunting as Badenheim 1939, The Death of the Adversary is a lost classic of modern fiction.
The other – “Comedy in a Minor Key” is just seeing English translation now. No less interesting:
A penetrating study of ordinary people resisting the Nazi occupation—and, true to its title, a dark comedy of wartime manners—Comedy in a Minor Key tells the story of Wim and Marie, a Dutch couple who first hide a Jew they know as Nico, then must dispose of his body when he dies of pneumonia. This novella, first published in 1947 and now translated into English for the first time, shows Hans Keilson at his best: deeply ironic, penetrating, sympathetic, and brilliantly modern, an heir to Joseph Roth and Franz Kafka. In 2008, when Keilson received Germany’s prestigious Welt Literature Prize, the citation praised his work for exploring “the destructive impulse at work in the twentieth century, down to its deepest psychological and spiritual ramifications.”