An Inventory of Losses (Hardcover)

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By Judith Schalansky, Jackie Smith (Translated by)
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Staff Reviews

In this collection of fictional essays, Schlansky considers loss and memory as she writes about objects, places, and animals that no longer exist. She writes that "being alive means experiencing loss" which resonates deeply in our current times, something that I think many are reflecting on as we navigate all of the things we no longer can do, and how that informs a future we don't know. Through the art of story telling, she "creates" memories, a very human need to interpret the world around us based on what we have experienced. Imaginative and beautiful, this is a book to savor.  —Rachel

— From Staff Favorites List


A dazzling book about memory and extinction from the author of Atlas of Remote Islands

Each disparate object described in this book—a Caspar David Friedrich painting, a species of tiger, a villa in Rome, a Greek love poem, an island in the Pacific—shares a common fate: it no longer exists, except as the dead end of a paper trail. Recalling the works of W. G. Sebald, Bruce Chatwin, or Rebecca Solnit, An Inventory of Losses is a beautiful evocation of twelve specific treasures that have been lost to the world forever, and, taken as a whole, opens mesmerizing new vistas of how we can think about extinction and loss.

      With meticulous research and a vivid awareness of why we should care about these losses, Judith Schalansky, the acclaimed author of Atlas of Remote Islands, lets these objects speak for themselves: she ventriloquizes the tone of other sources, burrows into the language of contemporaneous accounts, and deeply interrogates the very notion of memory.

About the Author

Judith Schalansky, born in Greifswald in 1980, lives in Berlin and works as a writer, book designer, and editor (of the prestigious natural history list at Matthes und Seitz). Her books, including the international bestseller Atlas of Remote Islands and the novel The Giraffe’s Neck, have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Jackie Smith is a literary translator working from German and French into English. After graduating from Cambridge University she worked as a commercial translator before dedicating herself full-time to creative and book translations. In 2015 she was selected to participate in the New Books in German ‘Emerging Translators Programme’. Her translation of an excerpt from Hans Platzgumer’s novel Am Rand (On the Edge) won the Austrian Cultural Forum London Translation Prize 2017.

Praise For…

Twelve fictional essays comprise this stunning work depicting animals, places, objects, and buildings that are lost forever... Not to be read quickly but savored and contemplated.

Schalansky cements her reputation as a peerless chronicler of the fabulous, the faraway, and the forgotten.

In each case Schalansky has alighted on fascinating material, and her delicately poetic turn of phrase is evident on every page.

An exploration of extinct animals and objects told through dazzling stories that question the bounds of memory and myth.

The most wondrous
book of the year: by taking the vanished and turning it into a great piece of
literature, the author has performed a magical act.

A celebration of what can still be accomplished with imagination, paper. and ink.
— Anthony Doerr

Exquisite. Like the hero of Joris-Karl Huysmans’s novel A Rebours, who sets off for London from Paris but realizes he need go no further than the Gare du Nord, Schalansky decides to make a virtue of absence.

— Robert Macfarlane

Utterly fascinating.
— Rosmarie Waldrop

Product Details
ISBN: 9780811229630
ISBN-10: 0811229637
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: December 1st, 2020
Pages: 224
Language: English