High as the Waters Rise: Book summary and reviews of High as the Waters Rise by Anja Kampmann

High as the Waters Rise

by Anja Kampmann

High as the Waters Rise by Anja Kampmann X
High as the Waters Rise by Anja Kampmann
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2020
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

German poet Anja Kampmann's award-winning debut novel is the dazzling, heart-rending story of an oil rig worker whose closest friend goes missing, plunging him into isolation and forcing him to confront his past.

One night aboard an oil drilling platform in the Atlantic, Waclaw returns to his cabin to find that his bunkmate and companion, Mátyás, has gone missing. A search of the rig confirms his fear that Mátyás has fallen into the sea.

Grief-stricken, he embarks on an epic emotional and physical journey that takes him to Morocco, to Budapest and Mátyás's hometown in Hungary, to Malta, Italy, and finally to the mining town of his childhood in Germany. Waclaw's encounters along the way with other lost and yearning souls – Mátyás's angry, grieving half-sister; lonely rig workers on shore leave; a truck driver who watches the world change from his driver's seat – bring us closer to his origins while also revealing the problems of a globalized economy dependent on waning natural resources. High as the Waters Rise is a stirring exploration of male intimacy, the nature of memory and grief, and the cost of freedom – the story of a man who stands at the margins of a society from which he has profited little, though its functioning depends on his labor.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[B]eautiful...Kampmann captures the visceral uneasiness that arises from second guessing one's past." - Publishers Weekly

"[Kampmann's] prose, ably translated by Posten, isn't showy, but it's quite pretty and, at times, gorgeous. It can be a difficult novel to read with its insistent quietness and emotional heaviness, but readers who prefer their fiction reflective and not plot-heavy will likely find much to admire in its pages...A promising fiction debut with understated but beautiful writing." - Kirkus Reviews

"Award-winning German author Kampmann is a poet, and this first foray into fiction is a poet's novel in the richness of its imagery and the exquisiteness of the language. It's as if the protagonist were a modern Odysseus returning to a home he no longer has—and that may no longer exist." - Library Journal

"Prose with the brightness of poetry, in a splendidly lucid translation." - Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick and co-winner with Olga Tokarczuk of the International Booker Prize for Flights

"So beautifully written, Anja Kampmann's novel is one of those very rare things: a debut of a literary master...High as the Waters Rise is our time's answer to the timeless Gilgamesh myth: a friend is lost, and a journey begins, teaching us with such passion about our world, its terrors, its injustices, its moments of piercing tenderness...Of any time, an epic. I am deeply grateful to Anja Kampmann for the gift to us that is this novel, and to her translator, Anne Posten, for the crisp and precise version in English. This is the book to live with." - Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa

"In Anja Kampmann's debut novel High as the Waters Rise, exquisitely translated by Anna Posten, memory moves in and out of the present like the tides....we are treated to the most vivid particulars, the glory of specifics, the full human reality of a character whose attempt to wander away from deadening grief only reminds him time and time again of all the many ways he has and does and can still feel alive." - Ilana Masad, author of All My Mother's Lovers

The information about High as the Waters Rise shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Anja Kampmann

Anja Kampmann was born in Hamburg and resides in Leipzig. She wrote for radio before writing a dissertation on musicality and silence in the late works of Samuel Beckett. She is the author of a collection of poems in German. High as the Waters Rise is her first novel, for which she received the Mara Cassens Prize for best German debut novel, and the Lessing Promotion Prize. She was also awarded the Bergen-Enkheim prize and was nominated for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the German Book Prize.

Anne Posten translates prose, poetry, and drama from German. The recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, her translations of authors such as Peter Bichsel, Carl Seelig, Thomas Brasch, Tankred Dorst, Anna Katharina Hahn, and Paul Scheerbart have appeared with New Directions, Christine Burgin/The University of Chicago, Music and Literature, n+1, VICE, The Buenos Aires Review, FIELD, Stonecutter, and Hanging Loose, among others. She is based in New York and Berlin.

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