Book details

The Fruit Thief

or, One-Way Journey into the Interior: A Novel

Author: Peter Handke; Translated from the German by Krishna Winston

The Fruit Thief

The Fruit Thief


About This Book

A major new novel from the Nobel laureate Peter Handke—one of his most inventive and dazzlingly original works

On a summer day under a blue sky a man is stung on his...

Page Count
On Sale

Book Details

A major new novel from the Nobel laureate Peter Handke—one of his most inventive and dazzlingly original works

On a summer day under a blue sky a man is stung on his foot by a bee. “The sting signaled that the time had come to set out, to hit the road. Off with you. The hour of departure has arrived.” The man boards a train to Paris, crosses the city by Métro, then boards another, disembarking in a small town on the plains to the north. He is searching for a young woman he calls the Fruit Thief, who, like him, has set off on a journey to the Vexin plateau. What follows is a vivid but dreamlike exploration of topography both physical and affective, charting the Fruit Thief’s perambulations across France’s internal borderlands: alongside rivers and through ravines, beside highways and to a bolt-hole under the stairs of an empty hotel. Chance encounters—with a man scrambling through the underbrush in search of his lost cat, and with a delivery boy who abandons his scooter to become a fellow traveler for a day—are like so many throws of the dice, each exposing new facets of this mysterious individual in the manner of a cubist portrait.

In prose of unrivaled precision, lucidly rendered into English by Krishna Winston, The Fruit Thief elevates the terrain of everyday life to epic status, and situates the microgeography of an individual at the center of a book like few others. This is one of Nobel laureate Peter Handke’s most significant and original achievements.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The News

"An experience of unadulterated literature . . . The first three words announce in a classical, almost fairy-tale-like way that a narrative of sorts has indeed commenced, while simultaneously erecting a frame of self-awareness that puts us at a slight remove from it—a hint, perhaps, that what follows will encompass a deconstruction of stories themselves, their telling and their tellers." —Rob Doyle, The New York Times Book Review

"Handke often emphasizes not an event but, rather, a seemingly minor moment, the significance of which the person who experiences it does not even recognize . . . [A] sense of intense presentness is the book’s governing principle . . . There is pleasure in watching this narrative wend its leisurely way to a conclusion." —Ruth Franklin, The New Yorker

When Handke won the Nobel Prize in 2019, the committee noted his interest in 'the periphery and specificity of human experience.' Considering his novel, this is an understatement . . . [The Fruit Thief] is almost a prehistory of experience, a demanding, engrossing narrative . . . Handke offers a reading experience that requires, and repays, a certain surrender." —Michael Autrey, Booklist

"Handke’s control of his prose is impressive and unwavering, and by the end [of Quiet Places] I had come to share many of his unusual fascinations." —Timothy Parfitt, New City

"A gorgeous, multi-layered tapestry . . . Narrated by an elderly man who steps on a bee, this latest from Nobel laureate Handke (A Sorrow Beyond Dreams) takes readers on an intimate journey through the cities, towns, and rural expanses of north-central France . . . Handke is a marvel at capturing and digging deeply into the history, sights, sounds, smells, and feel of France, which comes alive in his masterly hands." —Jacqueline Snider, Library Journal (starred review)

"[Handke] is a savvy explorer of the minutiae of human experience, and makes every hour of his wanderer’s sojourn 'dramatic, even if nothing happened,' as the narrator notes. Handke’s descriptions . . . offer much to savor. It adds up to a powerful anthem for 'the eternally daunted undaunted' . . . Admirers of the stylistically cavalier Handke will be rewarded for taking in the scenery of this story." Publishers Weekly

About the Creators

The Fruit Thief

The Fruit Thief