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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Short Letter, Long Farewell

Short Letter, Long Farewell

A Novel

Peter Handke

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke's novel Short Letter, Long Farewell tells the story of a young Austrian--evidently modeled on the author--on a harrowing month's journey across the United States

The book opens in Providence, where a letter awaits the un-named narrator from his estranged wife, Judith. "I am in New York," it says. "Please don't look for me. It would not be nice for you to find me."

As the novel proceeds, however, it gradually becomes clear that Judith is pursuing him, not vice versa--pursuing with the intent to kill. He spends a day in New York, then goes on to Philadelphia, where he joins an old flame and her daughter. The trio drives to St. Louis, still shadowed by Judith; partly to escape her (and partly to face her), the narrator strikes out west on his own, to Tucson, where he is robbed by Judith's agents, then up to the Oregon coast, where a roadside showdown takes place and a gunshot echoes over the Pacific.

"I seem to have been born for horror and fear," Handke's narrator confesses.

As the narrator and Judith maneuver toward their coastal rendezvous, his life itself may depend on whether he has achieved enough--in the flesh and in the mind--to confront the pistol trembling in her hand.

Nobel Prize in Literature

Short Letter, Long Farewell

"And once when they were strolling outside the town gate on a warm but overcast morning, Iffland said that this would be good weather to go away in--and indeed, the weather seemed made for travel: the sky...

Praise for Short Letter, Long Farewell

"The novel is full of vivid snapshots of American characters and scenes, and the idiosyncratic mixture of narrative, interior monologue, natural description and cultural themes and clichés is a brilliant concoction."--The New York Times Book Review

"This is a postmodernism in its most exciting and challenging form, a work of literature that makes the redefinition of reality and of fiction a possibility."--Choice


Reviews from Goodreads

Peter Handke

Peter Handke was born in Griffen, Austria, in 1942. A novelist, playwright, and translator, he is the author of such acclaimed works as The Moravian Night, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, and Repetition. The recipient of multiple literary awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and the International Ibsen Award, Handke is also a filmmaker. He wrote and directed adaptations of his novels The Left-Handed Woman and Absence, and co-wrote the screenplays for Wim Wenders’ Wrong Movie and Wings of Desire. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2019.

image of Peter Handkeo
Lillian Birnbaum

Read Author Bio at Britannica

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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