Title: Death in Sils Maria
Author: Ulrich Knellwolf
Translator: Iris Hunter
Paperback, 154 pages, English, Perfect Publishers Ltd, 2019
14 x 21.6 x 1.3cm, 223g
Death in Sils Maria is the first English translation of Ulrich Knellwolf’s well-known Tod in Sils Maria — 17 üble Geschichten, which was published in German in 2009. That version had grown out of the original publication of 1993 that had just 13 stories.
The tales are evocative of beautiful sunlit slopes, elegant candle-lit dinners, drinks in exclusive bars, strenuous hikes over the frozen lakes in blizzard conditions and invigorating off-piste runs through the deep soft snow.
Readers will ‘wish they were there’ until the heart-stopping moment when the atmosphere suddenly changes:
If the following extracts do not tempt you, what will?
Lola was attractive, beautiful and electrifyingly erotic, but she could be unbelievably loud and common. When she opened her mouth, vulgar obscenities crossed her lips. He had found that funny for a short time. Now he was horrified at the thought… Burger peered in her direction. There sat a danger for his political career, a banana skin on his path to becoming a member of the national governing council. In these morally nit-picking times, when the media were greedy for reports of sexual affairs, he would be sunk if it came out that he knew her.
Toni was deeply worried. As soon as the little book with the Sils stories had been published, he had received a letter from Ambrose Bierce, in which the sender claimed that Toni had stolen the prize-winning story from him; he also said he had proof and would bring an action.
‘Bierce? Someone is trying to pull our leg’, I said. ‘Is he after money?’
‘That will be next.’
‘I do not believe so’, said Toni. ‘The letter was, after all, sent two months ago, and no financial demand has arrived yet.’
‘So you don’t have to worry anymore.’
That was not how he saw it, Toni countered. Indeed, since the first letter, he was being bombarded with more letters almost daily, with increasingly absurd demands.
‘According to the latest, I am supposed to take out a full-page ad in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung admitting that my story is a copy of Bierce’s.’
‘Unpleasant, these nutters. Nevertheless, forget it. The real Ambrose Bierce has been dead for nearly 90 years.’
The website provides information on the author and how to order copies.