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Jenny Offill | Melanie Walz

Wetter, Photo: Silke Briel

Jury’s comment

A novel of the hour that captures with almost casual precision the eternally crisis-ridden feeling of our late-capitalist present, anticipating what has been abundantly clear at least since the pandemic: This crisis is a crisis in the crisis in the crisis. Offill’s narrator, New York librarian Lizzie, gauges the diffuse doomsday mood around the time of Trump’s election through her own everyday life – in brief observations, dry and often very funny. Worries about her son’s future or about her once drug-addicted brother upset Lizzie just as much as Brooklyn’s excessively hot summers. As an assistant for a climate podcast, she answers emails from concerned to panicked environmentalists, preppers and evangelicals. But what initially reads like a broad panorama of apocalyptic paranoia gains almost imperceptible momentum in Offill’s masterfully constructed novel. The focus becomes sharper: away from the weather, toward the climate. Offill doesn’t put easy answers in her narrator’s mouth. The fact that the novel nevertheless inspires hope is due as much to its experimental, breezy form as to Melanie Walz’s unerringly translated tone, whose humorous detachment allows neither cynical fatalism nor appeasing irony. Both elements create space to deal with the already ongoing catastrophe, to emerge from rigidity, to become active.

– Dominique Haensell, jury

Jenny Offill, © Emily Tobey

Author: Jenny Offill

Jenny Offill lives in Brooklyn, New York. Weather is her second novel translated into German after Dept. of Speculation. It was on the shortlist of the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named one of the best novels of 2020 by the New York Times and Esquire, among others.

Melanie Walz, © Annette Pohnert / Carl Hanser Verlag

Translator: Melanie Walz

Melanie Walz lives in Munich and is a translator from English. She has translated numerous renowned authors into German, including Patricia Highsmith, Charles Dickens, Michael Ondaatje, Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf and most recently George Eliot.