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by Pawel Huelle
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Serpent's Tail, September 2007

“A writer whose work is full of depth and allusion... pulses with irony that Mann would have been proud of... wonderfully absurd humour.” – The Independent on Sunday

Picking up on a throwaway line in The Magic Mountain, Castorp tells the story of Hans Castorp’s student years in Gdansk, long before the adventures in Davos described in Thomas Mann’s novel. Pawel Huelle skillfully creates a credible scenario for this influential period in Hans Castorp’s development, imagining what happened when the rational German student was exposed to the Slavonic eastern edge of the Prussian empire. He comes across people, events and ideas that anticipate some of the encounters he will experience in years to come, including an enigmatic Polish woman who becomes his obsession.

Set at the dawn of the twentieth century, Castorp faithfully recreates the atmosphere of central Europe as the storm began that would lead to two world wars. Beautifully written, full of humor, mystery and eccentricity, this is a moving tribute to a masterpiece of European literature.

Shortlisted for the 2008 Foreign Fiction Prize; longlisted for the 2008 IMPAC Prize

Pawel Huelle is a novelist, playwright, journalist, and a columnist for Gazeta Wyborcza. His fiction draws on autobiographical elements and pays homage to his hometown of Gdansk, where he has lived most of his life. He is the author of two collections of short stories and four novels, one of which, Who Was David Weiser?, was short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has been made into a film. All of his recent novels, Castorp, Mercedes Benz, and The Last Supper, have been translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones and published by Serpent’s Tail. Lloyd-Jones received the 2009 Found In Translation Award for The Last Supper.