Zbinden’s Progress by Christoph Simon

Zbinden's Progress high res cover
‘Zbinden invites comparison with Leo Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych...’
Alexander Starritt, TLS

Christoph Simon

Donal McLaughlin

Barbara Trapido

Price: £10 / $15.95 (print), £5 / $8 (ebook)

Paperback with French flaps, 210 x 138 mm, ca. 192 pp


eBook ISBN:

Original language:

Published by:
And Other Stories

Publication date:
9 Aug 2012 (UK), 1 Jan 2014 (N. America)

Winner of the Bern Literature Prize 2010


Zbinden’s Progress also featured in World Literature Today’s ‘Notable Translations of 2012’

Lukas Zbinden leans on the arm of Kâzim, as they walk slowly down the stairway towards the door of his old people’s home. Step by step, the irrepressible Lukas recounts the life he shared with his wife Emilie and his son.  She loved to walk in the countryside; he loved towns and meeting strangers. Different in so many ways, what was the secret of their life-long love? And why is it now so hard for him to talk to his son?

Gradually we get to know a man with a twinkle in his eye and learn the captivating story of this man, his late wife, their son and the many people he has met along the way. Zbinden’s Progress is heart-rending, heart-warming and hilarious.

More information

  • Zbinden’s Progress featured in World Literature Today’s ‘Notable translations 2012’ list. As well as in the London Review of Book’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 for Spring 2011. Readers loved its original style as well as its charm and emotional pull. Its original title is Spaziergänger Zbinden.
  • If you subscribed to And Other Stories before before this book went to the printers, you would have received one of the limited number stamped, early copies of Zbinden’s Progress and up to 5 other And Other Stories 2012 titles. 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

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