Crossing Borders

Feridun Zaimoglu:


My novel “Hinterland” was introduced to the public at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair. In 2008, I took trips to Prague, Poland, Budapest, and Lake Balaton. In my book, I tell the story of lugubrious melancholic characters who wind up in foreign cities - and get tangled up in strange stories. I hammered out the script over the course of many weeks; the beginning, middle, and end were already set. As soon as the Robert Bosch Stiftung approved my application for the Border Crossers grant, I packed my bags and hit the road. In Prague, I met the members of a jazz group; when they went on tour, I accompanied them. I was astounded - in my book, the protagonist is a composer’s daughter. During my travels, a number of similar small wonders occurred. I went to an area known as “Czech Canada”, spent a couple of nights in a small Czech town, and at the same time worked on my novel - and my trip became a defining theme. I didn’t want to give up my status as a tourist, so instead of reading books I took in the sites. During the summer, I traveled to Prague once again, and met locals at bars, museums, markets, and city festivals, and they invited me in and took me to the places that tourists had not yet discovered. I followed my novel’s road map and traveled to Budapest. And I found out that there are many German-speaking locals in that city as well. During the day, I covered distances of many miles, then rushed back to my hotel and wrote until it was time to explore the city once again. After a week, I traveled on to Lake Balaton. It was strange - not only did I transform into my novel’s protagonist, I was also pulled into the story more and more. In the last chapter of “Hinterland”, all the pieces of the puzzle come together and the larger connection is made. I already knew about the winter fog in the evening twilight from a short stay in Krakow the year before - but first I went to Poznań and Warsaw. Then, after a few days of research, I finished my novel in Krakow. I still remember how I meandered sadly through the streets - I would have loved to pack my bags and take the next train even further east.

Feridun Zaimoglu
448 pages, hardback
ISBN: 978-3-462-04133-0

Comments from the press:

“Zaimoglu’s new novel is a sprawling labyrinth populated by fairies and ghosts and decorated with the shards of a Sunday afternoon. You can’t simply read this book, you have to travel it.”
Ariadne von Schirach, Welt am Sonntag

“Zaimoglu floats pleasurably through cities, languages, and myths. He is a collector, an inventor of words, and an investigator of senses who creates his own myths from different components of the world’s culture.”
Ruth Bender, Kieler Nachrichten

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