Should I write about what I know

Philipp Weiss has written a monumental novel. A conversation about unlimited writing

“I have Elena Ferrante to thank for the fact that the book was created,” says Suhrkamp author Philipp Weiss, and for the first time, after 45 minutes, something like self-irony can be seen. Because Weiss is someone who means business. Everything. Life, literature and also his answers, mostly formulated ready for printing, even if they don't even want to fit into the cliché of a still completely unknown debut author.

Born in Vienna, he has presented a work that must be taken seriously. "People sit on the edge of the world and laugh" (1064 pages, 48 ​​euros), that's five books in one or a total history of humanity in five radically different narratives.

"Encyclopedias of an I" report on the life of the Paris communard and Japan traveler Paulette Blanchard in the 19th century; in "Terrain vague" the photo artist Jona travels to contemporary Tokyo and witnesses the catastrophe in Fukushima; the dissolute into the essayistic and aphoristic "Cahiers" document the emotional and intellectual crisis of climate researcher Chantal; "Akios Records" are the tape recordings of a child who fell victim to the reactor inferno; finally there is the manga comic drawn by the Viennese artist Raffaela Schöbitz "The Blissful Islands" an insight into disturbing inner worlds.

The work is held together on the one hand by the figure constellation - Chantal is obsessed with the fate of her ancestor Paulette, Jona, on the other hand, is Chantal's former lover - and on the other hand by themes such as the longing for mental and physical delimitation or the connection between natural history and culture. The whole thing makes an impressive big narrative about progress and the impending self-destruction of mankind.

About the “Dialectic of Enlightenment” - this could be the case with an old bestseller from Suhrkamp Verlag