W by Steve Sem-Sandberg
Emöke Andersson Lipcsey, who translates into Hungarian, recommends a book based on the life of the historical figure Johann Christian Woyzeck. The author Steve Sem-Sandberg uses W.’s fate to paint a shocking, true picture of how the brutality of war can affect and warp the character of the individual.
The Translator's Choice
W is based on the life of the historical figure Johann Christian Woyzeck. It is the same story upon which German author Georg Büchner (1813–1837) based his Woyzeck, one of the most frequently performed plays in world literature.
That Woyzeck’s life story has inspired writers through the ages is no coincidence. After undergoing a long and public trial, the wigmaker and barber referred to ‘W.’ was sentenced to death and executed for the murder of his lover. Court records and forensic reports in the case raise larger questions about individual guilt and victimization – for W. is both wrongdoer and wronged. He is a murderer, but he is also a victim of the harsh environment in which he was raised and of historical circumstance, having fought in Russia as a soldier in Napoleon’s army.
Steve Sem-Sandberg uses W.’s fate to paint a shocking, true picture of how the brutality of war can affect and warp the character of the individual. It is a theme that, unfortunately, is all too relevant today.
About the Translator
Emöke Andersson Lipcsey is an author, translator, freelance journalist and musician. She has written two novels that have been published in Sweden: Haren slår en kullerbytta (The Hare Is Doing A Somersault, Korpen, 2020) and Taurus blogg (Taurus’ Blog, Ekström & Garay, 2022). Her previous translations to Hungarian include Mordets praktik (The Practice of Murder) and Händelser vid vatten (Blackwater) by Kerstin Ekman.
Steve Sem-Sandberg (born 1958)
Stormen (The Storm), fiction, 2016
De utvalda (The Chosen Ones), fiction, 2015
De fattiga i Łódz (The Emperor of Lies), fiction, 2009
August Prize for Fiction 2009
Gerard Bonniers’ Award, The Swedish Academy 2016
Eyvind Johnson Award 2020
W, novel, Albert Bonniers, 420 pages, 2019
France, Éditions Robert Laffont
Germany, Klett Cotta
Greece, Alexandria Publishing
Hungary, Europa Publisher
Lithuania, Lietuvos Rasytoju Sajungos Leidykla
Netherlands, Ambo Anthos
US, Overlook Press