Christoph Simon

photo of Cristoph Simon, author of Zbinden's Progress. Taken by Adrian Moser

I’m not a writer … I just write.

Christoph Simon

Christoph Simon was born in 1972 in Emmental, Switzerland. After travels through the Middle East, Poland, South America, London and New York, he has settled in Bern. His first novel, Franz, or Why Antelopes Run in Herds (2001) has sold over 10,000 copies, while Planet Obrist (2005) was nominated for the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. Zbinden’s Progress is his fourth novel and won the 2010 Bern Literature Prize.

Zbinden’s Progress

More information

  • Translated by Donal McLaughlin.
  • Read more about Zbinden’s Progress in the book section.
  • Zbinden’s Progress featured in World Literature Today’s ‘Notable translations 2012’ list. As well as in the LRB’S ‘Winter Selection 2012’ and the Booktrust’s ‘Books we like: January 2013’.
  • And Other Stories’ Stefan Tobler has this to say about it: ‘At every page I realised the corners of my mouth were turning up involuntarily as I read. Full of glorious humour and lines I had to write down, it also tells us that another world is possible in our streets and with our families. I hope it gives you the lift it gave me!’
  • Zbinden’s Progress was one of the books discussed in the German-language Reading Group in Spring 2011. Readers loved its charm and emotional pull. Its original title is Spaziergänger Zbinden.
  • Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.

Praise for Christoph Simon

  • ‘Zbinden invites comparison with Leo Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych.’ Alexander Starritt, Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘A jewel of a novel … This book is a little Odyssey, a little Ulysses; the story of one day’s journey, skilfully playing in tandem with another, life-long journey.’ Barbara Trapido
  • ‘With its slow pace and winning ways, Zbinden’s Progress casually sidles up and takes its place alongside a number of remarkable recent works [on] the art of taking a walk.’ Ian Sansom, The Guardian
  • ‘A tender, restrained celebration of life’s simple pleasures, beautifully translated by Donal McLaughlin.’ Lucy Popescu, The Independent
  • ‘Christoph Simon has produced a wonderful, heart-rending, beautiful book; witty, multi-layered and moving.’ Buchkultur
  • ‘Simon’s novel is a polished gem, with insight and perception that know no cultural bounds.’ Neue Zürcher Zeitung
  • Zbinden’s Progress is a delight: a warm, wise, and compassionate book, as attuned to the complexities and mysteries of life as it is to the simple, pleasing colours of its beloved walking-frames.’ Benjamin Morris, The Berlin Review Of Books
  • ‘I never thought about explaining life through comparisons between experiences and observations but this method is exactly what we use each and every day to describe life. Zbinden’s Progress is an elegant array of such comparisons between the lives of Lukas Zbinden, his wife, and his son. The tale is intimately personal but is surprisingly universal leaving the reader with numerous moving observations. ’ Tiffany Nichols, San Francisco Book Review 
  • “The first-person narrative is pitch-perfect, capturing a slight formality indicative of Zbinden’s age and personality, as well as his natural yarn-spinner’s charm and desire to please.” Publisher’s Weekly
  • ‘It’s a story that is not action-packed but is nonetheless full of human emotion and poignancy.’ Lizzy’s Literary Life
  • ‘…an idiosyncratic exploration of what it means to be an elderly member of society with an intense desire to participate in it.’ Dan Eltringham, The Literateur
  • ‘Just as a walker catches, one after another, bits of the world seen as if for the first time while moving through it, so Christoph Simon’s prose, tracing closely the discoveries of his aging protagonist’s peripatetic eye and mind, darts its way through a day in Zbinden’s life, from sensation to sensation.  In the same stride, this comedy of walking and love (and walking as love) rises to comment deftly, profoundly, on its subject, joining the centuries-old desire of poets and essayists who relish the chance to praise the exquisitely life-giving pastime of the walk.’ Jeffrey C. Robinson, author of The Walk: Notes on a Romantic Image
  • “In a brilliant use of narrative time, the bulk of the novel spans the time it takes for Lukas—slow and cautious in his old age—and Kâzim—patient and seemingly happy enough to help Lukas and let him bend his ear—to descend the ninety-four steps to the lobby and, ultimately, the front door . . . Zbinden’s Progress, then, is a lovely meditation on walking, on life, on walking as a way of life, a way of being in the world, and of being human.” Three Percent


  1. Sorcha says:

    I loved this book – it’s an entertaining story about a charming old man chatting away to his carer, but at the same time it is a truly powerful and moving book about relationships. The unusual narrative perspective really works – the whole book is one continuous monologue by Zbinden, so the reader really gets to know this man. And the denouement will really catch you off your guard (although possibly slightly less so, now that I’ve said that!)

  2. Joel says:

    I liked the way the book Spaziergänger Zbinden is presented as a physical object. Its narrator sounds like an amiable old man, but I’m sure in real life he would come across as a nutter (I’m thinking of the scene at the tram stop, for example). Also not sure what we gain from the prologue.

  3. I love the way we only hear one side of things: the narrator who, as Joel and Sorcha point out, is amiable and charming and somewhat eccentric. He knows not everyone shares his opinions, or even wants to listen, but that doesn’t put him off sharing them!
    And yet, as you, Sorcha, brought up when our reading group met, this character trait is bound up intimately with the story of Zbinden’s communication with his family. (I won’t say any more than that, else I’d give too much away!) So, for me, as well as being a pure delight, the book really pulls on your heartstrings.

  4. Tom Higgins says:

    A Swiss friend is a big fan of Christoph Simon’s Spaziergänger Zbinden / Zbinden’s Progress. Great to hear it’s coming out in English this summer.


Leave a Comment

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Powered by WordPress | Deadline Theme : An Awesem design by tg