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Writers: Michel Faber (England), Clemens Setz (Vienna)

Moderator: Rosie Goldsmith (London)

Michel Faber and Clemens Setz share a common tendency to adopt very idiosyncratic viewpoints. They are also immensely successful writers. Their books deal with genres ranging from science fiction, present realities and educational literature to unbridled sentimentality. The plots are set on earth, in virtual and outer-planetary worlds, although the ‘extraterrestrials’ are always among us.

Michel Faber’s most recent novel, The Book of New Strange Things, has been translated into more than twenty languages and is an international bestseller. Faber sends a pastor into outer space to spread the word of love and pain. His vocation as a missionary demands enormous sacrifice from him because his wife must stay behind on earth. Never before in the history of mankind was it necessary for love to bridge such a great distance.

In Clemens Setz’s world, things whir and flicker with digital impulses as well as emotional exceptional situations. The everyday is strange, while the strange is normal. Cars are space stations, feelings are unexpected. Der Trost der runden Dinge (“The Comfort of Round Things”) is the story of ambiguity that intervenes in the life of its protagonist. For example, an Alsatian solider during the First World War discovers the constellation of the Great Young Kid in the night sky; it is so awful that he cannot tell anyone about it.

How absurd actually is the cosmos that we live in?


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