Title: The Field
Writer: Robert Seethaler (translated by Charlotte Collins)
Publishing House: Picador
Date of Publication: March 18th 2021 (first published June 4th 2018)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’Did I talk about tomorrow? Did I tell you that I love you? Do you remember?’’
In a German town, the dead have indeed their own stories to tell. Imagine if the deceased got together to narrate their lives and the way they came to the Certain end. Not as spooks but as actual spirits, with a voice like our own, but deepened with the wisdom of the Other Side.
In Robert Seethaler’s exceptional novel, a diverse Chorus narrates personal stories of love, loss, hope, companionship and isolation, spanning the stormy years of the previous century. Voices within a community, people locked in flats, people tending their gardens, strolling down sunlit streets, falling in love or into despair. A woman says goodbye to her husband, a man thinks of unrequited love, a priest loses his faith. Families coming together, families falling apart. People fall prey to addictions, others try to find their independence. We search for love and understanding. Some of us are fortunate, others less so. But the end of the journey is there.
A novel such as this is hard to describe. Seethaler’s writing is haunting and quiet, not morbid. The voices of the characters are direct, moving. This is not a dark journey. It is a strange concert, a walk down memory lane, a cry that should be heard.
‘’But perhaps the dead had no interest whatsoever in the things that lay behind them. Perhaps they would talk about what it was like over there. How it felt to stand on the other side. Summoned. Called home. Gathered in. Transformed.’’
Many thanks to Picador and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.