Bravo Archipelago Books: 2010 PEN Translation Prize to Heim for Claus’ Wonder


by Hugo Claus
translated from the Dutch by Michael Henry Heim

Michael Henry Heim has been awarded the 2010 PEN Translation Prize for his translation from the Dutch of Hugo Claus’s Wonder!

The judges wrote of Heim’s translation: “Michael Henry Heim’s outstanding translation has succeeded masterfully in mirroring Hugo Claus’s many voices in this novel that reflects a complex, complicated vision of post-World War II Flanders. It is a world that Claus describes in language that is often deeply poetic, and that alternates between simplicity and hyperbole, clarity and obfuscation, fantasy and reality. To capture all of this in English requires an intensely focused mind as well as an acutely sensitive ear. Michael Henry Heim proves to have both.”

“Fine and ambitious. . . . A work of savage satire intensely engaged with the moral and cultural life of author’s Belgium. . . . Packed with asides, allusions, and fierce juxtapositions, a style created to evoke a world sliding into chaos where contrast and contradictions are so grotesque that we can only ‘wonder’. . . . [Wonder is] a reminder of the energy and experimental verve with which so many writers of the Fifties and Sixties (Malaparte, Bernhard, Grass, Böll, Burgess, Pynchon) conjured up [a] disjointed and rapidly complicating world.”
—Tim Parks, The New York Review of Books

“To speak today of a still largely-unknown major work on European Fascism . . . seems presumptuous, rather like announcing the existence of, if not a new continent, at least a land mass of strange and significant proportions. But in discussing Wonder, it would be churlish not to admit to an explorer’s exhilaration at discovery.” —The National

“While fully aware that such an honorable title can only be used in great exceptions in Flemish literature, I would call Wonder a masterpiece.” —Vlaamse Gids

In his novels, Hugo Claus lays bare the haunted underbelly of twentieth-century Flanders with portaits of a shattered society and warped psyches rising to a mythic pitch. In Wonder, Victor-Denijs de Rijckel, a bewildered schoolteacher, is led to a distant village in pursuit of a mysterious woman. Tracking her to an underground political conference in a remote castle, he poses as an expert on Crabbe, a messianic Belgian fascist who disappeared in World War II. Drifting into a dense fog as his sanity begins to crumble, de Rijckel soon finds himself trapped among a handful of desperate individuals still living out the consequences of their collaboration with the Nazis decades earlier, all of whom are united by their belief that Crabbe’s return is imminent. The subtle cadences of the prose and the dense emotional texture of characters lost in complex moral labyrinths make Wonder a symphony only Claus could have composed.

by Hugo Claus
translated from the Dutch by Michael Henry Heim
$15 paperback
ISBN 9780980033014
distributed to the trade by Consortium:

(Visited 102 times, 1 visits today)

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *