The Giraffes Neck

The Giraffes Neck

3.21 (1,069 ratings by Goodreads)
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Adaptation is everything, something Frau Lomark is well aware of as the biology teacher at the Charles Darwin High School in a country backwater of the former East Germany. It is the beginning of the new school year, but, as people look west in search of work and opportunities, it's future begins to be in doubt. Frau Lohmark has no sympathy for her pupils and scorns indulgent younger teachers who talk to their students as peers, play games with them, or (worse) even go so far as to have 'favourites'. A strict devotee of the Darwinian principle of evolution, Frau Lohmark believes that only the best specimens of a species are fit to succeed. But now everything and everyone resists the old way of things and Inge Lohmark is forced to confront her most fundamental lesson: she must adapt or she cannot survive. Written with cool elegance and humane irony, The Giraffe's Neck is an exquisite revelation of a novel, and what the novel can do, that will resonate in the reader's mind long after the last page has been more

Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 135 x 205 x 27mm | 336g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 140884379X
  • 9781408843796
  • 240,509

Review quote

This is a brilliant novel: precise, relentless, very funny and unexpectedly powerful ... "Remarkable" is too small a word. It is very funny, desperately sad and real, and ultimately, shocking ... Shaun Whiteside's superlative rendition has penetrated close to the very human heart of this novel of ideas and thoughts, observations and emotional pain. Schalansky's novel is both simple and complex. It is rich in dazzling images drawn from the natural world and the wayward logic of biology; an artistry sustains it all with flair and intent ... There is much to praise and to learn from this singular work Eileen Battersby, Irish Times The Giraffe's Neck is a subtle, understated book, tension, emotion and dark humour bubbling under the surface, with a melancholic air of retrospection about it. In terms of atmosphere it's unlike anything else I've read, and I'd recommend it as a meditation on the need or otherwise for a change in one's life Big Issue Just as the world which Inge Lohmark has painstakingly built up around her crumbles, so too does the utopia of a country founded upon a vision that is both rigid and deterministic La Repubblica, Italy Her book is at once a report on the new Germany, an acid reflection on school and adolescence, the portrait of a woman and a study of concrete cases illustrating the eternal "struggle for life" according to Darwin Liberation, France Schalansky writes her way into current European literature with this little pearl of a novel Berlingske Tidende, Denmark Sublime ... A beautifully quirky novel, genuinely recommended Trouwe, Holland Schalansky's short, choppy sentences, expertly translated from the German by Shaun Whiteside, add to the sense of Lohmark trying to keep control of a changing world around her and her place within it ... The story is also, entertainingly, a biology lesson - Lohmark's thoughts and school classes are packed with information on evolution and nature, and are illustrated too. Schalansky's use of the evolution of the giraffe's neck as an analogy for the human condition is inspired. An unusual, distinctive novel that informs as well as entertains Independent Beyond the agony, Mike Leigh-style, there's deep, dark laughter here Independentshow more

About Judith Schalansky

Judith Schalansky was born in 1980 in Greifswald in the former East Germany. She studied art history and communication design and works as a freelance writer in Berlin. Schalansky's previous book Atlas of Remote Islands won the Stiftung Buchkunst (Book Art Foundation) award for 'the most beautiful book of the year' and was published to acclaim in the UK and the USA in 2010. The Giraffe's Neck is her first novel to be published in English. She lives in Berlin. Shaun Whiteside is a translator from German, French, Italian and Dutch. His translations from German include novels by Bernhard Schlink, Pascal Mercier, Zoran Drvenkar and Marlen Haushofer, as well as works by Freud, Nietzsche, Musil and Schnitzler. His translation of Lilian Faschinger's Magdalena the Sinner won the 1996 Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize. He lives in London with his wife and more

Rating details

1,069 ratings
3.21 out of 5 stars
5 11% (115)
4 30% (323)
3 35% (378)
2 17% (184)
1 6% (69)
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