An aging botanist withdraws to the seclusion of his family’s vacation home in the German countryside. In his final days, he realizes that his life’s work of scientific classification has led him astray from the hidden secrets of the natural world. As his body slows and his mind expands, he recalls his family’s escape from budding fascism in Germany, his father’s need to prune and control, and his tender moments with first loves. But as his disintegration into moss begins, his fascination with botany culminates in a profound understanding of life’s meaning and his own mortality.
Visionary and poetic, Moss explores our fundamental human desires for both transcendence and connection and serves as a testament to our tenuous and intimate relationship with nature.
Klaus Modick is an award-winning author and translator who has published over a dozen novels as well as short stories, essays, and poetry. His translations into German include work by William Goldman, William Gaddis, and Victor LaValle, and he has taught at Dartmouth College, Middlebury College, and several other universities in the United States, Japan, and Germany. Moss, Modick’s debut novel, is his first book to be published in English. He lives in Oldenburg, Germany.
Big Other Book Award Finalist
Reading Group Choices “Editors’ Pick” selection
Arts Fuse “Recommended Books of the Year” selection
Words Without Borders “Watchlist” selection
“[Moss] opens with the death of a renowned botanist, whose . . . hypnotic reflections and biographical recollections disavow the ‘botanist’s penetrating gaze’—its ‘classifications without real knowledge’—to arrive at a rejuvenating, anarchic conception of the natural world.” —Millions
“A powerful exercise in eco-fiction. . . . Modick’s writing, at its best, presents the ‘mossifcation’ of the mind, combining clinical observation with philosophical lyricism.” —Arts Fuse
“[Moss] taps into a host of humanitarian and ecological concerns, even as it reminds the reader of the complex web of connections humans dwell within.” —Words Without Borders
“A masterful examination of internal conflict, gratifying for readers inspired by ecofiction and literary theory. . . . Inner explorations transform into a Weltanschauung of epiphany and new understanding of love, death, and the natural world.” —Booklist
“A graceful, thought-provoking portrait of memory and mortality.” —Publishers Weekly
“Thoughtful and thought-provoking.” —Midwest Book Review