ISBN: 9781419751226

Publication date: 07 Jul 2022

Author: Steve Sem-Sandberg

A reimagining of Buechner’s classic play Woyzeck, the tale of jealousy, love turned to hate, and murder and its consequences propels this internationally acclaimed novel

The novel W. is a literary prequel to one of modern literature’s touchstone texts, the play Woyzeck—the basis of films, operas, and numerous translations and adaptations. Considered the first modern drama, Woyzeck tells the story of a loyal foot soldier who, in a fit of jealous rage, kills the woman he loves. In 1836 this true story inspired Georg Buechner to write the play, unfinished at his death at just 23 years old. W., the astonishing new novel by August Prize–winning author Steve Sem-Sandberg, grippingly recounts the lovers’ relationship, the murder case, and the solder’s execution, while digging deeper into the world and motivations of the characters.

Taking this classic and enduring work as his starting point, in poetic and controlled prose, Sem-Sandberg reveals a ruthless, moving, and unforgettable story of human vulnerability and the abyss that Buechner felt was a part of every person. Larger forces such as the horrors of war and the dehumanizing nature of psychiatry collide with the soldier’s own small world, and love devolves into hatred as Woyzeck desperately and humanly struggles to make something of the life given to him.