2020 Longlist



Translated from the German by Iain Galbraith

2020 Longlist

In River, a woman moves to a London suburb for reasons that are unclear. She takes long, solitary walks by the River Lea, observing and describing her surroundings and the unusual characters she encounters. Over the course of these wanderings she amasses a collection of found objects and photographs and is drawn into reminiscences of the different rivers which haunted the various stages of her life, from the Rhine, where she grew up, to the Saint Lawrence, the Hooghly, and the banks of the Oder. Written in language that is as precise as it is limpid, River is a remarkable novel, full of poignant images and poetic observations, an ode to nature, edge lands, and the transience of all things human.

About the Author

Esther Kinsky grew up by the river Rhine and lived in London for twelve years. She has written three volumes of poetry, two novels and has translated many notable English and Polish authors into German. River won the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize 2016, the Franz Hessel Prize 2014 and the Kranichsteiner Literature Prize 2015 amongst others.

Librarian’s Comments

Ester Kinsky’s River is a foreigners’ journey along the river Lea in east London.  With a slow pace she explores the landscape of the metropolis where she wallows in memories. Seemingly without a sense of time, the authors’ descriptions are vivid and memorable, reminiscent of Thoreau’s style that transforms the mundane object into something romantic.  There are encounters with outcasts that are equally misplaced as the landscape itself but the focus rests on nature and environment. Kinsky’s beautiful language is complemented with blurry Polaroids, shot by the protagonist, that are vague, just like the books’ non-linear timeline. An almost-biographical novel which is built upon previous poetry by Kinsky that delved into the river subject. Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, Germany



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