Lutz Seiler

In Case of Loss

In Case of Loss gathers the best of Lutz Seiler’s non-fiction from last twenty-five years, revealing his essays to be different to, but on a par with, his fiction and poetry. Seiler’s beautifully anecdotal and associative pieces throw fascinating light on literature and his background, not least the environmental and human catastrophe of the Soviet-era mining in the community he grew up in, ‘the tired villages . . . beneath which lay the ore, uranium.’ Other essays focus on poetry, including his discovery of poetry during his military service and pieces on German poets, including Ernst Meister, Jürgen Becker and Peter Huchel, whose former house, outside Berlin, is now home to Lutz Seiler, after he broke and entered it with Huchel’s widow’s blessing. Meanwhile, the title essay – a fascinating insight into creative process – describes Huchel’s notebook, a kind of dictionary of poetic images organised by mood and location.

Providing a perfect welcome in to his work as a whole, In Case of Loss sees one of Europe’s most original writers speak with openness and clarity in essays full of insight, humanity and a poet’s attention to the importance of often overlooked objects and lives.

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  • You can learn more about Lutz Seiler on his website (in German), here.
Print status: Available
Author: Lutz Seiler
Translator: Martyn Crucefix
Original language: German
Publication date: 28 November 2023
ISBN: 9781913505783
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505790
Availability: World English


Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘We see the “fascination of the factual”, but also the struggle to find a voice and shape the urgent material of reality. Many of the essays turn on origins and how to narrate history, venturing back to childhood, conscription, early poems, places of personal significance and some of the author’s great literary predecessors and mentors, including Peter Huchel, Jürgen Becker and Ernst Meister.’

Karen Leeder
Times Literary Supplement

‘Served by a trio of stellar translators, And Other Stories has done a great service bringing these three works into English. They will allow a new audience to enter Lutz Seiler’s haunted world and admire his singular voice in its different refractions.’

Patrick Wright

‘If this book were a building, it would surely be a makeshift shack of some kind.  A shelter for forgotten objects but also a workshop in which wheels are allowed to turn without always having to touch the ground. The views from the window keep changing. No sooner have you glimpsed old tank roads running past dunes in Fischland by the Baltic, than you’re somehow looking out from a hotel room in Los Angeles, or gazing over a lawn, which at first lies outside a proscribed poet’s house in a remote forest, and is then transported to a cultural centre in Rome. There’s a village too, still in the GDR, where everyone is tired thanks to the Cold War decision to convert it into a vast uranium mine. This is an exceptional and absorbing book, in which Lutz Seiler successfully recovers and also recreates the narrative of our times.’  

Sibylle Cramer
Süddeutsche Zeitung

‘It is never about reconstructing. Memory does not bring back what was forgotten. Indeed, the person who remembers doesn't even know for sure that what is remembered ever existed. . . Seiler's inimitable style as a storyteller, the wilful waywardness and weight of what he has to say, the intensity (and personal tact) of his engagement with the landscapes of others' poetries and lives all make these essays a lively portrait of the writer surrounded by his library. Seiler sets standards for reflection in art today. At the same time, he gives us a sense of the pagan-sacramental importance of objects in poetry.’

Praise for Lutz Seiler's Pitch and Glint ‘Pitch & Glint resists description but compels shock, admiration and envy. It has something of the amphibrachic chant of early Celan, jolie-laide language, lower case, ampersands, a harsh and physical sampling of a childhood in a working landscape (the uranium mines) in the last years of the GDR.’ Michael Hofmann ‘Pitch & Glint was an event, because all of us who still believe poetry can do something, felt that something was being given voice by this poet, something that would otherwise have been hopelessly lost.’ Michael Krüger ‘Epoch-making.’ Angelika Overath, Neue Zürcher Zeitung ‘Seiler's poems are original. They have body and a rhythm. They breathe dust and dirt, the desolation in minds and homes, the collapse and change, but their form is so strong that something new arises.’ Ursula Krechel, Der Tagesspiegel ‘Here the contemporary appears with archaic force.’ Helmut Böttiger, Frankfurter Rundschau ‘Seiler is not aiming at reportage, not a documentary recording of places and landscapes. He is after the images with which they are internalised: how they get into people's bones. [...] Distrustful of fixed rhyming schemes, he throws his lines like garlands over the sentence structures, playing with internal rhyme and alliteration, closer to Dylan Thomas than Peter Huchel. This slim, wonderful book is like a seashell: a part of Germany is enclosed in it, in a rush of sound.’ Lothar Müller, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ‘Seiler's art is an inbetween one. Pitch & Glint remains a secret until you find a way in, reading it as an evocation and as a challenge to move in echoing sounds.’ Martin Ahrends, Die Zeit