Archive for July, 2014

The Search for Heinrich Schlögel, a new novel by Martha Baillie

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

 

Heinrich

The Search for Heinrich Schlögel : Globe & Mail Best 100 Books of 2014, Quill & Quire’s Best Books of 2014, Oprah Editors’ Pick.

At the heart of Martha Baillie’s fragmentary, highly original new novel is an inexplicable event. In 1980, at age 20, Heinrich Schlögel escapes his West German birthplace to hike Baffin Island’s interior. The trip lasts two weeks, but when he returns the year is 2010 and he has not aged a day. His biography, the one we read, comes to us via an amateur archivist (also German, transplanted in Toronto) who has compiled “the Schlögel archive”: letters, photographs, books read, and other bits of ephemera related to the young man. How much of the story is the archivist’s invention? The use of an unreliable narrator has a point here: Baillie is turning the tables on the European, who has taken the place usually held by the “native” as specimen of study. The result is a philosophic, absorbing read on photography, the North, colonialism, ethnography, and the nature of time.”  —Jade Colbert, The Globe & Mail

 

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“Martha Baillie has written a timeless masterpiece. Every page is full of haunting wonderment. Truly, I know of no novel quite like it—it’s a blessing. The Search for Heinrich Schlögel has dreamlike locutions, it tells the most unusual tale, and it brings the margins of the world to us with photographic immediacy. I was completely transported.”  —Howard Norman, author of Next Life Might Be Kinder
 
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Baillie delivers a work of magical realism that captures the experience of postcolonial guilt … and gives voice to a silenced past.   —Starred and boxed Publishers Weekly
The Search for Heinrich Schlögel is utterly distinctive, a fictional biography that drifts so imperceptibly into dream that it’s impossible to tell where the reality of it ends and the fantasy begins. There’s something of Nabokov here, and also something of Rip Van Winkle. Baillie has written an ode to those things that resist time, like a photograph, and those things that relinquish themselves to it, like a painting, resulting in a novel that is itself a little bit of both.   —Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Illumination
Martha Baillie’s extraordinary The Search for Heinrich Schlögel is not quite like any other book I’ve read. It invites us on a hallucinatory journey to the Arctic and through time. It asks us to live with mystery and wonder, which is what a work of art does. If it reminds me of anything, it is the fabulous, shape-shifting novels of the Icelandic writer Sjón.          —Catherine Bush, author of The Rules of Engagement and Accusation
How is it possible to find a person who doesn’t know he’s missing? How can we be   entangled in the world, in history, and live a moral life? Heinrich Schlögel doesn’t give up his secrets easily, but as time collapses and opens, an extraordinary person, and an astonishing reading experience, come into existence. Martha Baillie’s new novel is entirely original, remembered yet created, truthful yet fictional, old, alive and visionary.   —Madeleine Thien, author of Dogs at the Perimeter