Compressed, delicate, but brutally precise, SS Proleterka is a fierce coming-of-age story.

S. S. Proleterka

Fiction by Fleur Jaeggy

Translated by Alastair McEwen

Our fifteen-year-old protagonist and her distant, financially ruined, yet somehow beloved father, Johannes, take a cruise together to Greece on the SS Proleterka. With a strange telescopic perspective, narrated from the day she suddenly decides she would like to receive her father’s ashes, our heroine recounts her youth. Her remarried mother, cold and far away, allowed the father only rare visits with the child who was stashed away with relatives or at a school for girls. “The journey to Greece, father and daughter. The last and first chance to be together.” On board the SS Proleterka, she has a violent, carnal schooling with the sailors: “I had no experience of the other part of the world, the male part.” Mesmerized by the desire to be experienced, she crisply narrates her trysts as well as her near-total neglect of her father. SS Proleterka is a ferocious study of distance, diffidence, and “insomniac resentment.”

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Paperback (published November 1, 2003)

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Fleur Jaeggy

Fleur Jaggy is a translator and novelist.