Bricks and Mortar – Clemens Meyer (Trans. Katy Derbyshire)

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE & WINNER OF ENGLISH PEN AWARD

‘A journey to the end of the night for 20/21st century Germany. Meyer reworks Döblin and Céline into a modern epic prose film with endless tracking shots of the gash of urban life, bought flesh and the financial transaction (the business of sex); memory as unspooling corrupted tape; journeys as migrations, as random as history and its splittings. A shimmering cast threatens to fly from the page, leaving only a revenant’s dream – sky, weather, lights-on-nobody-home, buried bodies, night rain. What new prose should be and rarely is; Meyer rewrites the rules to produce a great hallucinatory channel-surfer of a novel.’
— Chris Petit

‘This is a wonderfully insightful, frank, exciting and heart-breaking read. Bricks and Mortar is like diving into a Force 10 gale of reality, full of strange voices, terrible events and a vision of neoliberal capitalism that is chillingly accurate.’
— A. L. Kennedy

‘The point of Bricks and Mortar is that nothing’s “in stone”: Clemens Meyer’s novel reads like a shifty, corrupted collocation of .docs, lifted off the laptop of a master genre-ist and self-reviser. It’s required reading for fans of the Great Wolfgangs (Hilbig and Koeppen), and anyone interested in casual gunplay, drug use, or sex.’
— Joshua Cohen

“Bricks and Mortar is the story of the sex trade in a big city in the former GDR, from just before 1989 to the present day, charting the development of the industry from absolute prohibition to full legality in the twenty years following the reunification of Germany. The focus is on the rise and fall of one man from football hooligan to large-scale landlord and service- provider for prostitutes to, ultimately, a man persecuted by those he once trusted. But we also hear other voices: many different women who work in prostitution, their clients, small-time gangsters, an ex-jockey searching for his drug-addict daughter, a businessman from the West, a girl forced into child prostitution, a detective, a pirate radio presenter…

In his most ambitious book to date, Clemens Meyer pays homage to modernist, East German and contemporary writers like Alfred Döblin, Wolfgang Hilbig and David Peace but uses his own style and almost hallucinatory techniques. Time shifts and stretches, people die and come to life again, and Meyer takes his characters seriously and challenges his readers in this dizzying eye-opening novel that also finds inspiration in the films of Russ Meyer, Takashi Miike, Gaspar Noé and David Lynch.

Clemens Meyer was born 1977 in Halle and lives in Leipzig. After high school he jobbed as a watchman, building worker and removal man. He studied creative writing at the German Literary Institute, Leipzig and was granted a scholarship by the Saxon Ministry of Science and Arts in 2002. His first novel, Als wir träumten, was a huge success and for his second book, Die Nacht, die Lichter, a collection of short stories, he was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Prize 2008. Bricks and Mortar, his latest novel, was shortlisted for the German Book Prize and was awarded the Bremer Literaturpreis 2014.

Katy Derbyshire, originally from London, has lived in Berlin for twenty years. She translates contemporary German writers including Inka Parei, Dorothee Elmiger, Simon Urban, Annett Gröschner and Christa Wolf. Her translation of Clemens Meyer’s Die Nacht, die Lichter was published as All the Lights by And Other Stories in 2011.She occasionally teaches translation and also co-hosts a monthly translation lab and the bi-monthly Dead Ladies Show.”

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