To the Back of Beyond
Happily married with two children and a comfortable home in a Swiss town, Thomas and Astrid enjoy a glass of wine in their garden on a night like any other. Called back to the house by their son’s cries, Astrid goes inside, expecting her husband to join her in a bit. But Thomas gets up and, after a brief moment of hesitation, opens the gate and walks out. No longer bound by the ties of his everyday life-family, friends, work-Thomas begins a winding trek across the countryside, exposed as never before to the Alpine winter. At home, Astrid wonders where he’s gone, when he’ll come back, whether he’s still alive.
Unfailingly perceptive and precise, Peter Stamm gives form to doubts that disturb us all at times: Are we being true to ourselves? Are we loved for our true selves? Following Thomas and Astrid on their separate paths, To the Back of Beyond eloquently traces the effects of loss and the limits of freedom.
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What makes a man leave his pleasant life and beloved family from one minute to the other? Without any preparation or particular aim, he walks deeper and deeper into the Alpine wilderness, hiding from people. And what makes an abandoned wife find a way back to normal life, without losing the hope of a reunion? in this short novel swiss author, Peter Stamm gives no answers. He tells the story of Thomas and Astrid with psychological refinement, constantly moving between his and her point of view and as well between imagination and reality. Stamm connects the different narrative levels with great virtuosity and thrills the reader up to the end.
Man Booker International Prize finalist 2013 and German Book Prize 2014 nominee Peter Stamm is an expert at writing about unexpected events in his quite ordinary characters’ everyday life. In this book, Thomas suddenly walks out on his family. The author describes with linguistic ease and changing point of view, Thomas’ leaving and traveling as well as his wife’s reaction without ever explaining his motives.
Peter Stamm has again written a story of imprisonment and how a (male) protagonist, Thomas, steps out of his everyday life and rejects the straitjacket of Swiss conformity. Told from the protagonist’s point of view as well as his wife’s, a gripping narrative of their relationship and Thomas’ disappearance is the result.