Who is Martha
2016 Longlist

Who is Martha?

Translated from the German by Arabella Spencer
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ABOUT
THE BOOK

In this rollicking novel, 96-year-old ornithologist Luka Levadski foregoes treatment for lung cancer and moves from Ukraine to Vienna to make a grand exit in a luxury suite at the Hotel Imperial. He reflects on his past while indulging in Viennese cakes and savoring music in a gilded concert hall. Levadski was born in 1914, the same year that Martha – the last of the now-extinct passenger pigeons – died. Levadski himself has an acute sense of being the last of a species. He may have devoted much of his existence to studying birds, but now he befriends a hotel butler and another elderly guest, who also doesn’t have much time left, to share in the lively escapades of his final days. This gloriously written tale, in which Levadski feels “his heart pounding at the portals of his brain,” mixes piquant wit with lofty musings about life, friendship, aging and death.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Marjana
Gaponenko

Marjana Gaponenko was born in 1981 in Odessa, Ukraine. She fell in love with the German language as a young girl, and began writing in German when she was sixteen. She has a degree in German studies from Odessa University.

Who is Martha? is her second novel and was awarded the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize in 2013. She has also published volumes of poetry and lives in Vienna and Mainz.

Marjana Gaponenko was born in 1981 in Odessa, Ukraine. She fell in love with the German language as a young girl, and began writing in German when she was sixteen. She has a degree in German studies from Odessa University.

Who is Martha? is her second novel and was awarded the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize in 2013. She has also published volumes of poetry and lives in Vienna and Mainz.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Arabella
Spencer

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

According to Christian Jahl: “A great novel about Luka Levadski – 96-year-old, professor emeritus of Zoology, and ornithologist who travels to Vienna to die in luxury at the Hotel Imperial – which tells us a lot about his life.”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
15/09/2014
Country
Germany, Ukraine
Original Language
German
Publisher
New Vessel Press
Translator
Arabella Spencer
Translation
Translated from the German by Arabella Spencer

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