An odyssey through the mind and memory of a washed-up writer, from one of Europe’s most provocative novelists, Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke
Mysteriously summoned to a houseboat on the Morava River, a few friends, associates, and collaborators of an old writer listen as he tells a story that will last until dawn: the tale of the once well-known writer’s recent odyssey across Europe. As his story unfolds, it visits places that represent stages of the narrator’s and the continent’s past, many now lost or irrecoverably changed through war, death, and the subtler erosions of time. His wanderings take him from the Balkans to Spain, Germany, and Austria, from a congress of experts on noise sickness to a clandestine international gathering of jew’s-harp virtuosos. His story and its telling are haunted by a beautiful stranger, a woman who has a preternatural hold over the writer and appears sometimes as a demon, sometimes as the longed-for destination of his travels.
Powerfully alive, honest, and at times deliciously satirical, The Moravian Night explores the mind and memory of an aging writer, tracking the anxieties, angers, fears, and pleasures of a life inseparable from the recent history of Central Europe. In crystalline prose, Peter Handke traces and interrogates his own thoughts and perceptions while endowing the world with a mythic dimension. As Jeffrey Eugenides writes, “Handke’s sharp eye is always finding a strange beauty amid this colorless world.”
The Moravian Night is at once an elegy for the lost and forgotten and a novel of self-examination and uneasy discovery, from one of world literature’s great voices.
About the Author
Peter Handke was born in Griffen, Austria, in 1942. A novelist, playwright, and translator, he is the author of such acclaimed works as The Moravian Night, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, and Repetition. The recipient of multiple literary awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and the International Ibsen Award, Handke is also a filmmaker. He wrote and directed adaptations of his novels The Left-Handed Woman and Absence, and co-wrote the screenplays for Wim Wenders’ Wrong Movie and Wings of Desire. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2019.
Krishna Winston is the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature at Wesleyan University. She has translated more than thirty books, including five previous works by Peter Handke and works by Werner Herzog, Günter Grass, Christoph Hein, and Goethe.
"Peter Handke commands one of the great German-language prose styles of the postwar period, a riverine rhetoric deep and swift and contrary of current." —Joshua Cohen, The New York Times Book Review
"A searching exploration of how travel and storytelling can help us find our truest selves." —Poornima Apte, Booklist
"The renowned Austrian novelist looks back on a body of work and a terrible century in this elegiac tale . . . Some of Handke's text is a kind of meditation on history . . . And some is simply lovely . . . Stellar." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)