The Book of Things
By Ales Steger, Brian Henry
The first US edition of rising world-poetry star Ales Steger's most acclaimed book. The most prominent Slovenian poet of his generation.
Winner of The 2011 Best Translated Book of the Year Award
Winner of The 2011 Award for Best Literary Translation into English from the AATSEL
From his first book of poems, Chessboards of Hours (1995), Aleš Šteger has been one of Slovenia's most promising poets. The philosophical and lyrical sophistication of his poems, along with his work as a leading book editor and festival organizer, quickly spread Šteger's reputation beyond the borders of Slovenia. The Book of Things is Šteger's most widely praised book of poetry and his first American collection. The book consists of fifty poems that look at "things" (i.e. aspirin, chair, cork) which are transformed by Šteger's unique poetic alchemy.
Translator Brian Henry is a distinguished poet, translator, editor, and critic.
From Publisher's Weekly:
Steger's efforts sometimes bring to mind such Western European figures as Francis Ponge and Craig Raine, who also sought to make household things look new and strange. Yet Steger brings a melancholy Central European sense of history- his objects tend to remember, or cause, great pain: "It pours, this poisonous, sweet force," Steger writes of "Saliva," "Between teeth, when you spit your own little genocide." (Nov.)
From Guernica, a Magazine of Art and Politics:
It is a rare treat to have an English translation before the ink has dried on the original. By which I mean, a mere five years after the book's Slovenian publication, Brian Henry has brought these poems to life for those of us not lucky enough to read Slovenian. Henry's translations are impressive for sheer acrobatics.
"From his first book of poems, Šahovnice ur (Chessboards of Hours), published in 1995 when he was 22 years old, Aleš Šteger has been considered one of Slovenia's most promising poets. That promise has been unleashed over the course of a decade and a half, through three more books of poetry (Kashmir, Protuberances, and The Book of Things), a fictional travelogue in Peru (January in the Middle of Summer), and a collection of lyric essays (Berlin), which received the 2007 Rožanceva Award for the best book of essays written in Slovenian. The philosophical and lyrical sophistication of his poems, along with his work as a leading book editor and festival organizer, earned for Šteger a reputation that quickly traveled beyond the borders of Slovenia. The international reach of his work seems appropriate considering its international concerns and refusal to acknowledge limits to, or boundaries of, art, thought, even genre. Although grounded in and growing from his hometown of Ptuj, Šteger's work in multiple genres and on many fronts testifies to his growing stature as one of Central Europe's most essential literary figures."
--Brian Henry, from the Introduction to The Book of Things