Clemens Setz / 2013

© Paul Schirnhofer

Clemens J. Setz was born in 1982 and now lives in Graz, Austria. For his short-story collection Die Liebe zur Zeit des Mahlstädter Kindes (Love in Times of the Mahlstadt Child) he won the 2011 Leipzig Book Fair Prize. His other books are Söhne und Planeten (Sons and Planets, 2007) and Die Frequenzen (The Frequencies, 2009), which was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2009 and won the Bremen literature prize 2010. He translated the novel Entering Hades by John Leake into German (Der Mann aus dem Fegefeuer), a documentary thriller about the Austrian poet and serial killer Jack Unterweger. His novel Indigo, which was published in 2012, was shortlisted for the German Book Prize.

Featured novel: Indigo

In Clemens J. Setz’s novel Indigo, children born with the mysterious “Indigo syndrome,” which afflicts anyone in their proximity with headaches, vertigo and other symptoms, are sent to the Helianau Institute in Styria, Austria. A mathematics tutor there—who shares the author’s name and biographical details – witnesses unexplained “relocations” of students, which he decides to investigate. The novel itself is presented as the research materials assembled by this fictionalized Clemens Setz. The Pynchonesque conspiracy looming in these pages involves exploiting the children’s “Indigo potential” for dubious ends.

With a premise like something out of The Twilight Zone or The X-Files and the bizarre dystopian atmosphere of a Terry Gilliam movie, this novel also takes for granted the expansive terrain writers like Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo and David Foster Wallace have claimed for literature. With intelligence, humor and a gracefully musical prose style, the prize-winning thirty-year-old Austrian author incorporates into his fiction a collection of unusual anecdotes, neglected footnotes to historical or current events, cultural and pop marginalia. The sheer pleasure of reading Setz’s writing lies in his digressive, improvisatory style.

download sample translation
(© Ross Benjamin 2012)