Andrzej Tichý

Wretchedness

Shortlisted for the 2016 August Prize

Waiting by the canal in Malmö, a young cellist meets a disorientated junkie. The encounter sends him into a turmoil of memories, voices and associations. As the cellist oscillates between present and past, he is paralysed by doubt and confusion and he begins to question his own place in society.

From sprawling social housing estates, via basement clubs and squat parties, and culminating in a dramatic role reversal, Wretchedness is a delirious trip through Europe’s underbelly. With a rhythmic, mesmerising flow, Tichy’s novel explores the possibility of social mobility and the ambivalent desire to escape your origins, asking how to love your neighbour when that neighbour is an addict, a criminal, wretched.

Ebook: £6.99

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  • Andrzej Tichy’s first novel Sex liter luft (Six Litres of Air) received the prestigious Borås Tidnings Debutant Prize and in 2009 his second novel Fält (Fields) was shortlisted for the Nordic Council’s Literary Award and nominated as a Swedish Radio Novel of the Year. In 2016 Eländet (Wretchedness) was shortlisted for the August Prize.
Print status: Upcoming
Translator: Nichola Smalley
Original language: Swedish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 2 June 2020
ISBN: 9781911508762
Ebook ISBN: 9781911508779
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 176

Reviews

Anthony Anaxagorou

'An utterly phenomenal read: a masterclass in hyper-modernist experimentation, voice and form. Embracing the bitter realities of addiction, prejudice and inner-city turmoil, Tichy’s rapid prose roves internal dialogues, places, vernaculars and circumstances to expose a singular, absorbed world struggling to keep itself afloat. Through a complex network of characters, friends and strangers we’re made to think about the ways the human spirit can fall into despair, its ability to establish resolve, to love and remember, and the myriad philosophies it leaves us with.'

Patty Yumi Cottrell

'Wretchedness is a wild intoxicant of language, momentum, and voice. Andrzej Tichy is a master of despair.'

Will Ashon

'Some kind of holy/unholy meeting of Thomas Bernhard and The Geto Boys, Wretchedness is an anguished, brutal, beautiful piece of phantasmagoric-realism, an act of remembrance through imagination, animated by rhythm, and pouring past you with the inevitability of the tide coming in. Brilliantly written, superbly translated, this small book packs in more sadness and moments of epiphany, more hopelessness and hope, more surviving - more life! - than most writers manage in a whole career. Remarkable.'

Jen Calleja

'Wretchedness is a red-blooded ode to the most invisible and unwanted in society - immigrant workers, the homeless, addicts, and those born into the hardest of circumstances. Tichy’s gasping, polyphonic prose flies through time and space and drug-induced states, flinging us between disturbing recollections, hopeless presents, and deferred or tainted futures - all connected by bittersour camaraderies and the remedying power of music.'


August Prize Judges

‘What can a survivor do with their history? Can you be loyal to the friends you left behind? Andrzej Tichý turns this wretched reality into something poignant. His polyphonic novel has a rough, rhythmic melody and a ferocious rage.’

Pia Bergström
Aftonbladet

‘In virtuousically rendered language; full of the poetry of spoken word, the innovation of contemporary slang, and the philosophical verve of great literature, Tichý gives a voice to the lost ‘brothers’ of his youth. To follow this frantic, mournful, bamboozling, pleading, smart, childish, would-be hard, bragging, desperate and despairing collective memory is to ‘hear’ a whole forsaken generation. Despite the embracing of darkness, despite the absence of hope and faith, it is a magnificent elegy, teeming with life.’

Ann Lingebrandt
Sydsvenska Dagbladet

‘In terms of ambition, few contemporary Swedish authors can compete with Tichý. The same goes for linguistic intensity. His prose rushes forward, roaring with, if you will, dark poetry, hurling its rage at an indifferent present. Wretchedness is a furious novel.’

Nils Schwartz
Expressen

‘Authors like Tichý are needed to keep our literature alive. He is drilling frenetically, refusing to neglect the suffering and succeeds to light a spark on a linguistic tinder.’