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ISBN: 9781931883764
Pages: 136
Size: 4.5 x 7
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Distributed By: Publishers Group West

The Females

by Wolfgang Hilbig
Translated from German by
Isabel Fargo Cole

“Beautiful and grotesque, Wolfgang Hilbig’s The Females is a searing indictment of bureaucracy, sexuality and ultimately language itself. Like Dostoevsky’s underground man, Hilbig’s narrator, in hallucinatory prose, strikes out at everything in the universe, including himself. A disturbing vision of gender, madness and living in a surveillance state, The Females is a remarkable and unforgettable experience.” —Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore

Already acclaimed for providing unique insight into some of history’s greatest wrongs—and today’s issues of mass surveillance, neo-fascism, and the individual’s role in society—what does Wolfgang Hilbig have to add to contemporary questions about gender? A lot it turns out. Acclaimed as one of Hilbig’s major works, The Females finds the lauded and legendarily irascible author focusing his labyrinthine, mercurial mind on how unequal societies can pervert sexuality and destroy a healthy, productive understanding of gender.

It begins with a factory laborer who ogles women in secret on the job. When those same women mysteriously vanish from their small town, the worker sets out on a hallucinatory journey to find them. Powerful and at times disturbing, The Females leaves us with some of the most challenging, radical, and enduring insights of any novel from the GDR.


“Hilbig’s was among the most significant prose and poetry written not just in the GDR but in all of postwar Germany—East or West.” — Joshua Cohen, author of Book of Numbers

“­Evokes the luminous prose of W.G. Sebald.” — The New York Times

“[Hilbig writes as] Edgar Allan Poe could have written if he had been born in Communist East Germany.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

“Wolfgang Hilbig is an artist of immense stature.” — László Krasznahorkai, author of Satantango and Seiobo There Below

“[Hilbig] could very well be the writer for our time.” — Boston Review

“Whenever I read Hilbig’s books . . . I am profoundly shaken. This language practically slices me open.” — Clemens Meyer, author of Bricks and Mortar

Wolfgang Hilbig (1941–2007) was one of the major German writers to emerge in the postwar era. Though raised in East Germany, he proved so troublesome to the authorities that in 1985 he was granted permission to emigrate to the West. The author of more than twenty books, he received virtually all of Germany’s major literary prizes, capped by the 2002 Georg Büchner Prize, Germany’s highest literary honor.
Isabel Fargo Cole’s translations include The Sleep of the Righteous, by Wolfgang Hilbig (Two Lines Press); Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006); All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011); and The Jew Car by Franz Fühmann (Seagull Books, 2013).