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The capital - Robert Menasse

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The capital
Robert Menasse
Paperback / softback
MacLehose Press
UK Publication Date


"I enjoyed The Capital so much . . . A major book" New York Times
"First-class satire" Guardian
"A deliciously vicious and timely satire" Financial Times
"Mischievous yet profound" Economist
"Thoroughly entertaining" Spectator
"[A] polyphonic EU satire" The Times


The Capital is a brilliantly entertaining satire, a crime story, a comedy of manners . . . and a wild pig chase.
This is the tale of a continent, a city and its inhabitants as they navigate their way through the confusing tangle of 21st-century life.

Brussels. A hive of tragic heroes, manipulative losers, involuntary accomplices. No wonder the European Commission is keen to improve its image.

The fiftieth anniversary of the European Commission approaches, and the Directorate-General for Culture is tasked with organising an appropriate celebration. When Fenia Xenopoulou's assistant comes up with a plan to put Auschwitz at the very centre of the jubilee, she is delighted. But she has neglected to take the other E.U. institutions into account.

Meanwhile the city is on the lookout for a runaway pig. And what about the farmers who take to the streets to protest against restrictions blocking the export of pigs to China?

See what the critics are saying about The Capital:

"Omniscient" New York Times
"An exceptional work" Kirkus Reviews
"Deliciously witty" Metro
"Elegant . . . brilliantly constructed" Die Zeit
"Robert Menasse is pioneering the genre of Eurolit" Financial Times


Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch

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Robert Menasse was born in Vienna in 1954 and studied there before moving to Brazil, where he lived for six years as a professor of literature at the University of So Paulo. He is the author of several novels translated into English, including Wings of Stone and Reverse Thrust, and of a work of non-fiction, Enraged Citizens, European Peace and Democratic Deficits: Or Why the Democracy Given to Us Must Become One We Fight for (2016). In 2017 he was awarded the German Book Prize for Die Hauptstadt (The Capital).

First-class satire . . .The Capital delivers, within a brilliant satirical fiction, thoughtful and instructive analysis of both the weaknesses in the EU that galvanise leavers and the strengths that motivate remainers.
Guardian - Mark Lawson

A traditional novel, broadshouldered, omniscient, almost Balzac-ian, but with terrorism part of a plot centered
satirically around an all-too-plausible Brussels idea.

New York Times - Steven Erlanger

The Capital is a mischievous yet profound story about storytelling; about the art of shaping a narrative by finding resonances in the messy stuff of life . . . [An] unexpectedly delightful book about Brussels.

Menasse has a finely tuned satirical ear that easily criss-crosses borders . . . an intelligently written, pacy novel whose wide-ranging narratives ensure the momentum never wavers . . . Robert Menasse has produced an extraordinary piece of work
New European - Charlie Connelly

A thoroughly entertaining fiction that serves both as a sort of campus satire and a novel of ideas . . . Menasse packs his Brussels with sharply-etched types . . . With its zest, pace and wit, Jamie Bulloch's translation serves him splendidly.
Spectator - Boyd Tonkin

A deliciously vicious - and timely - satire about the E.U. and the meaning of Europe today
Financial Times - Frederick Studemann

[An] ambitious panorama that arrives amid the throes of Brexit and the Chinese Year of the Pig. Intelligent, fun, sad, insightful - an exceptional work.
Kirkus Reviews

An elegantly written, brilliantly constructed novel, full of discussion points and ideas
Die Zeit - Andreas Isenschmid

A sharply observed, witty novel, a character comedy . . . the best novel about European bureaucracy you'll read . . . a brave and funny book
New European Best Books of 2019 - Charlie Connelly

A brutally funny and exhaustive tableau of both a continent in transition and the organisation straining to hold it together . . . a teeming epic
Time Magazine - Andrew R. Chow

Rumbustious . . . deliciously witty
Metro - Paul Connolly

The Capital could hardly be more topical . . . It is about Europe reconnecting with its ideals via a tragic past . . . It's a smart read, unlike anything being written in Britain today.
Jewish Chronicle - David Herman

Robert Menasse's polyphonic EU satire juggles a multitude of wryly amusing storylines.
The Times - Siobhan Murphy

This is above all the polyphonic novel in excelsis . . . I want to read much more from this major European writer
Arts Desk - David Nice

Witty but humane. . . . The massive cast never becomes unwieldy thanks to Menasse's delightful prose. This epic, droll account of contemporary Europe will be catnip for fans of mosaic novels and comical political machinations.
Publishers Weekly (*****)

I enjoyed The Capital so much . . . A major book about coincidences, of linked and overlapping meanings . . . This is a deeply humane novel, a novel for adults.
The New York Times - Dwight Garner

Menasse assembles his cast from the different member states . . . but he gives their inner lives a complexity that belies the satirical shorthand of simple labels . . . brilliantly comic . . . An important and timely book.
Irish Times - Michael Cronin

A gripping novel with an urgent political purpose
New York Review of Books - Fintan O'Toole

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