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Hermine
An Animal Life
Maria Beig; Jaimy Gordon, trans.




New Issues Poetry & Prose
2005 • 186 pp. 5 x 8"
Literary Fiction

$14.00 Paperback, 978-1-930974-48-7



“It’s not just a dog’s life—it’s a pig-cow-rat’s life. In this deftly executed allegorical novel, Beig (Lost Weddings) gives an episodic, animal... [continued in Reviews below]”—Publishers Weekly

Reviews / Endorsements

“It’s not just a dog’s life—it’s a pig-cow-rat’s life. In this deftly executed allegorical novel, Beig (Lost Weddings) gives an episodic, animal-centered account of the life of a young woman in rural Germany between the two world wars. Brief chapters—"Horse," "Cat," "Pig," etc.—recount the protagonist’s less-than-idyllic encounters with the natural world. At birth, Hermine resembles a mutant horse; at school, she finds herself unable to write the assigned essay "Hurray, We’re Slaughtering!" As a young teacher, she inadvertently causes the injury of a pupil during a spirited game based on a bear hunt, and she maims a badger with her motorbike. Disowned by her family for killing their pet goose, she is even scolded by her husband: "No one can have an animal with you around." Granted, "some days Hermine liked well enough," but most days she loses her battle with the bestiary. . . .This earthy, unsentimental novel is the perfect holiday gift for nihilists with a sense of humor.”—Publishers Weekly

“Maria Beig's Hermine is a heartbreaking bestiary, a life told in sixty-four animals. The book’s design is apt, since its protagonist elicits less regard from her farm family than its animals do. Imagine a world in which your first memories are of your ‘father’s bad-tempered scowl and the angry faces of sisters and brothers who were struck and struck back.’ . . . Maria Beig is the preeminent tour guide to the stunningly stark emotional and spiritual deprivations that afflicted German farm folk in the early twentieth century.”—Jim Shepard



MARIA BEIG was born in rural Upper Swabia, in the south of Germany, in 1920. Author of eight novels and four short story collections, she won the Alemannischer Literaturpreis in 1983, the Literaturpreis of the City of Stuttgart in 1997, and the Hebbel-Preis in 2004.



Sun, 17 Dec 2017 14:46:01 -0500