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Peter Stamm

Seven Years

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Seven Years
by Peter Stamm, Translated by Michael Hofmann

Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women--and he can't make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.

Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland's most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.

 

210 x 140mm
274 pages

Paperback
Other Press, 2009
English
ISBN 978-159051 394 1

 

With a patient and impressive commitment to realism, this Swiss novel follows the course of a complicated, troubled marriage. Through a series of flashbacks, the narrator, an architect named Alex, lays out the story of his courtship of and marriage to the beautiful, humorless Sonia and his simultaneous, inexplicable relationship with an unattractive, devoutly Catholic Polish woman named Ivona, who is hopelessly in love with him. “You are what you love, not who loves you,” Alex says at one point, and the words hang heavily over this bleak triangle. Though Stamm pulls off a quietly spectacular plot twist halfway through the book, he never loses sight of the quotidian things that erode or transform relationships over time: an oddly personal disagreement about the merits of “Rain Man,” or the “piles of romance novels, Christian manuals, and Polish magazines” that crowd a lover’s apartment.

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