The Field is the third book I read by Robert Seethaler, and I think it will be the last one. I had previously read A Whole Life and The Tobacconist by him and loved each. Unfortunately, he disappointed me a bit this time. I could not find that charm from his previous novels in this book.
The Field tells the stories of the inhabitants of a cemetery in the town of Paulstadt. We listen to 29 people who speak to the reader from their graves. As you can imagine, most of them are full of unhappiness and regret. When the book started, I thought it would be very nice. In the middle of this pandemic, I was full of excitement to read another excellent book by an author I loved very much.
As I progressed through the book, the characters became dull, and I realized that I didn’t want to read it. Frankly, I thought the dead could tell a little more exciting things to those who were alive. Or at least I expected them to say something that would make me think a little deeper. It was in vain. I continued to read because it is very short, or I’d have quit long ago.
On the one hand, I’m glad I finished. I think the best parts of the book are the beginning and the end. I have already forgotten the rest. However, I thought that what they had to say would stay with me.
If this is your first time reading Robert Seethaler, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I will forget this book right after writing this post, as it leaves me with no subject or feeling to think about. If you are looking for a remarkable book, A Whole Life will be a much better choice. Enjoy!
If the dead could speak, what would they say to the living?
From their graves in the field, the oldest part of Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories from their lives. Some recall just a moment, perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one that they now realize shaped their life forever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved.
These voices together – young, old, rich poor – build a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground instead of from above. The streets of the small, sleepy provincial town of Paulstadt are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned and died there.
From the author of the Booker International-shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler’s The Field is about what happens at the end. It is a book of human lives – each one different, yet connected to countless others – that ultimately shows how life, for all its fleetingness, still has meaning.
Robert Seethaler is an Austrian living in Berlin and is the author of four previous novels. A Whole Life is his first work to be translate into English and is already a German bestseller, selling over 100,000 copies. The book has been translate from its original German by Charlotte Collins.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: