by Giorgio Agamben
published March 2023
One of Europe's greatest living philosophers, Giorgio Agamben, analyzes the life and work of one of Europe's greatest poets, Friedrich Hölderlin.
What does it mean to inhabit a place or a self? What is a habit? And, for human beings, doesn't living mean—first and foremost—inhabiting? Pairing a detailed chronology of German poet Friedrich Hölderlin's years of purported madness with a new examination of texts often considered unreadable, Giorgio Agamben's new book aims to describe and comprehend a life that the poet himself called habitual and inhabited.
Hölderlin's life was split neatly in two: his first 36 years, from 1770 to 1806; and the 36 years from 1807 to 1843, which he spent as a madman holed up in the home of Ernst Zimmer, a carpenter. The poet lived the first half of his existence out and about in the broader world, relatively engaged with current events, only to then spend the second half entirely cut off from the outside world. Despite occasional visitors, it was as if a wall separated him from all external events and relationships. For reasons that may well eventually become clear, Hölderlin chose to expunge all character—historical, social, or otherwise—from the actions and gestures of his daily life. According to his earliest biographer, he often stubbornly repeated, 'nothing happens to me'. Such a life can only be the subject of a chronology—not a biography, much less a clinical or psychological analysis. Nevertheless, this book suggests that this is precisely how Hölderlin offers humanity an entirely other notion of what it means to live. Although we have yet to grasp the political significance of his unprecedented way of life, it now clearly speaks directly to our own.
by Mithu Sanyal
published October 2022 • UK/IE/EU edition
'A provocative and knotty debut.' The New York Times
Nivedita (a.k.a. Identitti), a doctoral student who blogs about race with the help of Hindu goddess Kali, is in awe of Saraswati, her superstar postcolonial and race studies professor. But Nivedita's life and sense of self are upturned when it emerges that Saraswati is actually white. Hours before she learns the truth Nivedita praises her tutor in a radio interview, which calls into question her own reputation and ignites an angry backlash among her peers and online community.
In her thought-provoking, genre-bending debut, Mithu Sanyal collages the commentary of real-life intellectuals, blogs, articles, race theory, academic warfare and coming-of-age drama. A darkly comedic tour de force, Identitti showcases the outsized power of social media in the current debates around identity politics and the power of claiming your own voice.
Mithu Sanyal is a cultural scientist, journalist and author of two academic books Vulva (Wagenbach, 2009) and Rape (Verso, 2019).
'A writer at the height of her powers.' Laurie Penny, author of Sexual Revolution.
'From the first page, I knew Sanyal was going to take me to filthy, funny, strange places. She didn't disappoint. Buy the ticket and take the wild ride as Identitti tries to make sense of race, belonging and truth.' Jarred McGinnis, author of The Coward
by Mithu Sanyal
published July 2022
Nivedita (a.k.a. Identitti), a well-known blogger and doctoral student is in awe of her supervisor—superstar postcolonial and race studies South-Asian professor Saraswati. But her life and sense of self are turned upside down when it emerges that Saraswati is actually white. Nivedita's praise of her professor during a radio interview just hours before the news breaks—and before she learns the truth—calls into question her own reputation as a young activist.
Following the uproar, Nivedita is forced to reflect on the key moments in her life, when she doubted her identity and her place in the world. As debates on the scandal rage on social media, blogs, and among her closest friends, Nivedita's assumptions are called into question as she reconsiders the lessons she learned from her adored professor.
In her thought-provoking, genre-bending debut, Mithu Sanyal solicited the contributions and commentary of public intellectuals as if Saraswati were a real person. A darkly comedic tour de force, Identitti showcases the outsized power of social media in the current debates about identity politics and the power of claiming your own voice.
by Esther Maria Magnis
published March 2022
With or Without Me is an unsparing and eloquent critique of religion. Yet Esther Maria Magnis's frustration is merely the beginning of a tortuous journey toward faith—one punctuated by personal losses retold with bluntness and immediacy. "If God is love," she writes, "then it's a kind of love I do not understand."
by Juli Zeh
published November 2021
finalist for the 2022 PEN Translation Prize and Helen & Kurt Wolff Prize
When a family vacation turns into a nightmare
Lanzarote on New Year's Day: Henning is cycling up the steep path to Femés. As he struggles against the wind and the gradient he takes stock of his life. He has a job, a wife, two children—yet hardly recognizes himself anymore. Panic attacks have been pouncing on him like demons. When he finally reaches the pass in utter exhaustion, a mysterious coincidence unveils a repressed yet vivid memory, plunging him back into childhood and the traumatic event that almost cost him and his sister their lives. In this compelling and darkly psychological novel, Juli Zeh tells the breathtaking story of two small children who, in the middle of a holiday in paradise, end up in hell and live to tell the tale.
by Aldo Novarese
published November 2020
Aldo Novarese (1920–1995) achieved worldwide renown for his extraordinary typefaces. Alfa-Beta reviews the evolution of writing systems and typography from their advent up to the publication of the first edition in 1964. The book showcases a very specific point of view: it is one of very few works on the history of type originally written in Italian, and one of even fewer to have been written by a practicing designer rather than a historian or academic. This edition features four new introductory essays contextualizing the book's original release, highlighting its current relevance, and describing the editorial logic guiding the reissue and its translation.
by Alexander Kluge
published September 2020
Alexander Kluge's work has long grappled with the Third Reich and its aftermath, and the extermination of the Jews forms its gravitational center. Kluge is forever reminding us to keep our present catastrophes in perspective—'calibrated'—against this historical monstrosity. Kluge's newest work is a book about bitter fates, both already known and yet to unfold. Above all, it is about the many kinds of organized machinery built to destroy people. These 48 stories of justice and injustice are dedicated to the memory of Fritz Bauer, determined fighter for justice and district attorney of Hesse during the Auschwitz Trials. 'The moment they come into existence, monstrous crimes have a unique ability,' Bauer once said, 'to ensure their own repetition.' Kluge takes heed, and in these pages reminds us of the importance of keeping our powers of observation and memory razor sharp.
edited by Ilan Stavans; translation of Jhumpa Lahiri's "Letter to Italy"
published August 25, 2020
This anthology takes its title from the last line of Dante's Inferno, when the poet and his guide emerge from hell to once again behold the beauty of the heavens. In that spirit, the stories, essays, poems, and artwork in this collection—from beloved authors including Jhumpa Lahiri, Mario Vargas Llosa, Eavan Boland, Daniel Alarcón, Jon Lee Anderson, Rivka Galchen, Claire Messud, Ariel Dorfman, and many more—detail the harrowing experiences of life in the pandemic, while pointing toward a less isolated future. Together they comprise a profound global portrait of the defining moment of our time, and send a clarion call for solidarity across borders.
by Anna Goldenberg
published June 2020
A defiant memoir from contemporary Europe: In autumn 1942, Anna Goldenberg's great-grandparents and one of their sons are deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Hans, their elder son, survives by hiding in an apartment in the middle of Nazi-controlled Vienna. But this is no Anne Frank-like existence; teenage Hans passes time in the municipal library and buys standing room tickets to the Vienna State Opera. He never sees his family again. Goldenberg reconstructs this unique story in magnificent reportage. She also portrays Vienna's undying allure—although they tried living in the United States after World War Two, both grandparents eventually returned to the Austrian capital. The author, too, has returned to her native Vienna after living in New York herself, and her fierce attachment to her birthplace enlivens her engrossing biographical history. A probing tale of heroism, resilience, identity and belonging, marked by a surprising freshness as a new generation comes to terms with history's darkest era.
by Dana Grigorcea
published May 2019
Victoria has just recently moved from Zurich back to her hometown of Bucharest when the bank where she works is robbed. Put on leave so that she can process the trauma of the robbery, Victoria strolls around town. Each street triggers sudden visions as memories from her childhood under the Ceausescu regime begin to mix with the radically changed city and the strange world in which she now finds herself. As the walls of reality begin to crumble, Victoria and her former self cross paths with the bank robber and a rich cast of characters, weaving a vivid portrait of Romania and one woman's self-discovery.
by Martin Mosebach
published February 2019
In a carefully choreographed propaganda video released in February 2015, ISIS militants beheaded twenty-one orange-clad Christian men on a Libyan beach. Acclaimed literary writer Martin Mosebach traveled to the Egyptian village of El-Aour to meet their families and better understand the faith and culture that shaped such conviction. In twenty-one symbolic chapters, each preceded by a picture, Mosebach offers a travelogue of his encounter with a foreign culture and a church that has preserved the faith and liturgy of early Christianity. This book is also an account of the spiritual life of a Christian minority in an Arab country stretched between extremism and pluralism, between a rich biblical past and the shopping centers of New Cairo.
by Jost Hochuli
published April 2016
Typophiles Monograph, New Series No. 30. The essay was written as a preface to the publication Adrian Frutiger, son oeuvre typographique et ses écrits (Villeurbanne: Maison du livre, de l'image et du son, 1994), for which the German-language original was translated into French. The original German version appeared later that same year in Adrian Frutiger, Denken und Schaffen einer Typografie, released by the same publisher. Both publications were catalogs that accompanied the traveling retrospective exhibition of Frutiger's work. The essay now appears in English for the first time, translated by Alta L. Price, with a new afterword by the author, written for this new edition. The text is set in fourteen different types designed by Frutiger. Cover printed letterpress by Bradley Hutchinson. Designed by Maxim Zhukov.
by Jürgen Holstein et alia
published October 2015
Part reference compendium, part vintage visual feast for the eyes, this very particular cultural history is at once a testament to an irretrievable period of promise and a celebration of the ambition, inventiveness, and beauty of the book.
by Ariane Roth, Marina Schütz et alia
published November 2015
Home to over 25,000 volumes on art, architecture, design, and photography, the Sitterwerk’s art library began with the bequest of book collector and connoisseur Daniel Rohner (1948–2007).
by Corrado Augias
published April 2014
Exploring his country's cities, history, and literature, cultural authority Corrado Augias elucidates its highs and lows: Michelangelo, but also the mafia; Pavarotti, but also Berlusconi; the debonair Milanese, but also the infamous captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. This is Italy, admired and reviled, a country that has guarded its secrets and confounded outsiders. Now, as its paradoxes are more evident than ever, the author poses the puzzling questions: how did it get this way? How can this peninsula be simultaneously the home of geniuses and criminals, the cradle of beauty and the butt of jokes?