The Field

Robert Seethaler

Translated by Charlotte Collins
03 March 2022
240 pages


If the dead could speak, what would they say to the living?

From their graves in the field, the oldest part of Paulstadt’s cemetery, the town’s late inhabitants tell stories from their lives. Some recall just a moment, perhaps the one in which they left this world, perhaps the one that they now realize shaped their life for ever. Some remember all the people they’ve been with, or the only person they ever loved.

These voices together – young, old, rich, poor – build a picture of a community, as viewed from below ground instead of from above. The streets of the small, sleepy provincial town of Paulstadt are given shape and meaning by those who lived, loved, worked, mourned and died there.

From the author of the Booker International-shortlisted A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler’s The Field is about what happens at the end. It is a book of human lives – each one different, yet connected to countless others – that ultimately shows how life, for all its fleetingness, still has meaning.

One of those rare novels that can move you existentially, and change you.
This book about a village’s dead proves that subtle literary quality and bestseller success do not have to be mutually exclusive.
The whole thing is so wonderfully crafted . . . that you literally don't want to stop reading, that you're sad to come to the end . . . What he has mastered like few other authors in German literary history is to give all his characters a profound dignity.