To the Back of Beyond | Granta

  • Published: 05/07/2018
  • ISBN: 9781783783304
  • 129x20mm
  • 160 pages

To the Back of Beyond

Peter Stamm

Translated by Michael Hofmann

After returning from a pleasant holiday with his wife, Astrid, and their two children, Thomas walks out the front door. Thomas walks up the street. Thomas keeps walking.

Astrid gradually realizes that her husband has not just gotten up early to go to work. She waits for as long as she can and then puts as much energy as she can into trying to find him – coming to understand, along the way, that there is little she can do if Thomas is striving to stay lost.

In precise and hypnotic prose that cuts as cleanly as a scalpel, To the Back of Beyond is a novel that takes away the safe foundations of a marriage and a lifestyle to ask deeper questions about identity, connection and how free we are to change our lives. It is a graceful and resonant work from one of Europe’s most important writers.

A formidable European writer... The translation, by Michael Hofmann, a mighty critic and poet as well as one of the foremost translators from the German language, does an impeccable job in rendering the blanched austerity of Stamm's style and its deliberate affectlessness

Neel Mukherjee, New Statesman

Stamm sets up the psychological territory with such quiet precision that the reader succumbs at once: To our surprise, we are reading a love story... Everything is so thoughtfully put together, so gently and subtly observed, that the question of whether Thomas and Astrid will ever be reunited, if such a thing is even possible, gathers an extraordinary pathos and draws us towards this haunting novel's final twist

Tim Parks, Guardian

[A] short, powerful novel... To the Back of Beyond excels in deploying compact descriptions to evoke mental states [and] leaves the reader, intrigued and disturbed, to ponder the price of stability and the lure of chaos

Alex Clark, Spectator

The Author

Peter Stamm was born in 1963, in Scherzingen, Switzerland. He is the author of the novels Agnes, On A Day Like This, Unformed Landscape and the collection In Strange Gardens and Other Stories, as well as numerous short stories and radio plays. He lives in Winterthur.

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The Translator

Michael Hofmann is a poet, translator and critic. His latest book of poems is One Lark, One Horse. He recently translated Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Kairos.

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