This strange novella concerns Pliny the Elder and his drive to catalog all of nature. The fluid prose owes much to translator Ottosen. One thematic thread is the contrast between the intellectual effort to rein in nature’s extraordinary variety and man’s ugly, ignorant cruelty…An interesting work and a good introduction to this unusual writer.
Kirkus

Harald Voetmann’s eye-opening English debut, Awake, is the first book of his erudite, grotesque, and absurdist trilogy about mankind’s inhuman will to conquer nature

Available September 21, 2021

Included in the Fall Fiction bundle. Get the Bundle

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Awake

Fiction by Harald Voetmann

Translated from the Danish by Johanne Sorgenfri Ottosen

In a shuttered bedroom in ancient Italy, the sleepless Pliny the Elder lies in bed obsessively dictating new chapters of his Natural History to his slave Diocles. Fat, wheezing, imperious, and prone to nosebleeds, Pliny does not believe in spending his evenings in repose: No—to be awake is to be alive. There’s no time to waste if he is to classify every element of the natural world in a single work. By day Pliny the Elder carries out his many civic duties and gives the occasional disastrous public reading. But despite his astonishing ambition to catalog everything from precious metals to the moon, as well as a collection of exotic plants sourced from the farthest reaches of the world, Pliny the Elder still takes immense pleasure in the common rose. After he rushes to an erupting Mount Vesuvius and perishes in the ash, his nephew, Pliny the Younger, becomes custodian of his life’s work. But where Pliny the Elder saw starlight, Pliny the Younger only sees fireflies.

In masterfully honed prose, Voetmann brings the formidable Pliny the Elder (and his pompous nephew) to life. Awake is a comic delight about one of history’s great minds and the not-so-great human body it was housed in.

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Paperback (published September 21, 2021)

ISBN
9780811230810
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
112

Ebook

ISBN
9780811230827

Harald Voetmann

Danish writer

This strange novella concerns Pliny the Elder and his drive to catalog all of nature. The fluid prose owes much to translator Ottosen. One thematic thread is the contrast between the intellectual effort to rein in nature’s extraordinary variety and man’s ugly, ignorant cruelty…An interesting work and a good introduction to this unusual writer.
Kirkus
Vivid, earthy, by turns hilarious, gross, and tragic, but always powerfully engaging. Reading and rereading this book remains a rare pleasure.
—Susanna Nied
A slim novel of ideas, seemingly turning its back on the present, or rather illuminating from within a turn that leads to the very history of European mentality.
Svenska Dagbladet
A flawless and sparkling little monument to human life.
Information
Reading Voetmann’s books makes me feel so alive. His voice is like no other, his hold on his material masterful. You will never read anything like Awake—a hardcore, pulsating portrait of a first century Roman weirdo. A wonderful and unpleasant treasure.
—Olga Ravn
No one else can describe ancient life with such beauty and humor, while never sparing you from the gross and terrifying pain of being human.
—Naja Marie Aidt
With a scholar’s knowledge and a poet’s playfulness, Harald Voetmann brings us into the mind and times of its protagonist, Pliny the Elder. Visceral and lyrical, entertaining and provoking, it evokes a dazzling world on the brink of destruction, resounding with our own conflicted age.
—Sjón