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Seven Years: A Novel
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Published:
Other Press 2011
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Description

Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women—and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.

Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland’s most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/22/2011
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781590513958
ASIN:
B004FGMDE6
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Peter Stamm. (2011). Seven Years: A Novel. Other Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Peter Stamm. 2011. Seven Years: A Novel. Other Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Peter Stamm, Seven Years: A Novel. Other Press, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Peter Stamm. Seven Years: A Novel. Other Press, 2011. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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        Peter Stamm is the author of the novels Seven YearsOn a Day Like This, and Unformed Landscape, and the short-story collections We’re Flying and In Strange Gardens and Other Stories. His prize-winning books have been translated into more than thirty languages. For his entire body of work and his accomplishments in fiction, he was short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013, and in 2014 he won the prestigious Friedrich Hölderlin Prize. He lives in Switzerland.
         
        Michael Hofmann has translated the work of Franz Kafka, Joseph Roth, Peter Stephan Jungk, and many others. He is the author of several books of poems and a book of essays, Behind the Lines, and is the editor of the anthology Twentieth-Century German Poetry. In 2012 he was awarded the Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Florida and London.

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publishDate
2011-03-22T04:00:00+00:00
isOwnedByCollections
True
title
Seven Years
fullDescription

Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women—and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled more than ever by the mysteries of his heart.

Peter Stamm, one of Switzerland’s most acclaimed writers, is at his best exploring the complexities of human relationships. Seven Years is a distinct, sobering, and bold novel about the impositions of happiness in the quest for love.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Zadie Smith, Harper's Magazine
      • content:

        "Seven Years is a novel to make you doubt your own dogma. What more can a novel do than that?"

      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Stamm's talent is palpable, but what makes him a writer to read, and read often, is the way he renders contemporary life as a series of ruptures. Never entirely sure of their position, his characters engage in a constant effort to establish their equilibrium."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Review of Books
      • content: "Stamm's cleverness is to align a spareness that works in translation with his characters' instinctive fear of all things rich and intense. Lean as it is, his prose is wonderfully 'literary' in its fine integration of voice and story. The constant disorientation of his characters, their sense that their lives are interchangeable with any number of other lives, seem peculiarly suited to this era of globalization."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Daily Beast
      • content: "Seven Years is a powerful, enlightening novel about the eternal search for contentment in life, the often fickle nature of love, and the knowledge that in reality, happiness is rarely how we dreamed it would be."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "Ego, passion, and deception run wild, but the novel's strength is found in the characters Stamm has created: powerfully imperfect, sometimes despicable, horribly conflicted, and always believable far beyond the archetypes that too often pop up in novels of marital ennui."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: "Swiss novelist Stamm (Unformed Landscape) offers a classic love triangle that reads like a contemporary European version of Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road... Readers looking for a highbrow page-turner will relish this quick read."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: "This touching novel is a tour of what makes love work and what tears love apart in the modern world."
      • premium: False
      • source: ForeWord Reviews
      • content: "A dynamic and taut novel that examines the conflicted heart in the confines of marriage and the perception of what love is."
      • premium: False
      • source: Rosecrans Baldwin, author of You Lost Me There
      • content: "Seven Years is tense and frightening--I couldn't stop plunging in. Desire is a hunting dog and we never know what it will bring us. This is ruthless truth."
      • premium: False
      • source: Le Monde
      • content: "Peter Stamm is not alone to want to expose the tensions within such a constellation, but the construction of his narrative is an undeniable success."
      • premium: False
      • source: Elle (France)
      • content: "The search for love, the pursuit of happiness, the confusion of emotions, Peter Stamm revisits these eternal themes in an original novel that resonates deeply with all of us."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 31, 2011
        Swiss author Stamm (Agnes) examines the complications of love and attraction in this captivating novel. Alex and his gorgeous and brilliant wife, Sonia, run an architecture firm and have a lovely daughter. It is the life he always thought he deserved, but during the fateful seventh year of marriage Alex scratches a familiar itch with Ivona, an old flame who is so tremendously plain and boring that Alex considers himself too good for her, and yet, for reasons inexplicable, his attraction to her runs hotter than it ever has for Sonia. His revulsion toward Ivona's fundamental underwhelmingness gets a lengthy—at times, tediously so—examination, as does the magnetism that pulls him to her and his own fiery self-hatred. Ego, passion, and deception run wild, but the novel's strength is found in the characters Stamm has created: powerfully imperfect, sometimes despicable, horribly conflicted, and always believable far beyond the archetypes that too often pop up in novels of marital ennui.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 15, 2011

        One man steers an erratic course between two women in this wan account of a quasi-obsession, the latest from the Swiss Stamm (On a Day Like This, 2008, etc.). 

        In the framing device, Alex, a married German architect, is telling Antje, an expatriate German artist, about the Other Woman. His story begins in 1989. He's an architecture student in Munich. In a beer garden, a friend sets him up with a young woman who's been eyeing him. This is Ivona, from Poland, a clerk in a Catholic bookstore. She's plain, passive, inarticulate, quite without charm, "a natural-born victim," yet Alex, perversely, finds himself drawn to her. He spends the night with her. They don't have sex, yet Ivona says she loves him; her unwavering devotion is her only appeal. The second time he comes close to raping her. Then she fades into the background as Alex travels to Marseilles with Sonia, another architecture student. She is everything that Ivona is not. They make love. After some twists and turns, Alex and Sonia get married; she accepts his assurance that he's broken up with Ivona. They start their own firm; business is booming, but they can't make a baby. Alex starts seeing Ivona again. She becomes pregnant. Alex suggests to Sonia that they raise the child together. Implausibly, she agrees. What might have been a moment of high drama passes for nothing as the narrative voice drones on. And the cold question recurs: Why should we care about these people? OK, perhaps Sonia a little. This smart, beautiful, warm-hearted woman is trapped in the wrong marriage and the wrong novel. But the almost mute Ivona is an unformed lump of clay, and Alex is a self-pitying creep who proves, in due course, a neglectful parent to little Sophie. By the end, nothing has really changed.

        A monster with a full-bore obsession might have been fun to read about, but that's not what's on offer in this damp squib.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        March 1, 2011

        A German architect with a beautiful wife cannot give up his desire for an otherwise unremarkable Polish immigrant. Despite talking to her initially as a joke, a dare, he makes her his mistress and returns to her over the years. In this account of their affair, feverish as an Orhan Pamuk or Knut Hamsun tale, motivations are by subterfuge: "I thought what a thin veneer civilization is, and how easily it cracks when pain or hatred or lust take over in individuals." Swiss novelist Stamm (Unformed Landscape) offers a classic love triangle that reads like a contemporary European version of Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road. Theories of architecture are employed throughout to great if heavy-handed effect ("I remember something that Aldo Rossi had said, that every room contains an abyss"), and though readers may not identify with or even like the characters, the plot moves quickly and winds in satisfying ways. VERDICT Readers looking for a highbrow page-turner will relish this quick read.--Travis Fristoe, Alachua Cty. Lib. Dist., FL

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 15, 2011
        Alex is trapped between two loves in this heartbreaking novel translated from the German. Living in Munich as an architecture student, he finds himself surprisingly ambivalent about his desires for the future and his goals in life. Just after graduation, he falls in love with two women. Sonia is gorgeous, prudent, and driven. His warm love of Sonia quickly turns into marriage and the start of their jointly owned architecture firm. Ivona, on the other hand, is ugly and taciturn, yet it is her boring air and puerile notions of love that set off a spark in Alex. He begins a long, tormented affair with Ivona that eventually leaves her pregnant. When Sonia, infertile but desperately wanting children, agrees to raise Ivonas baby with Alex as their own, Alex believes he can end the affair and rectify his marriage. But tensions escalate, and financial hardship, along with long-endured emotional estrangement, threatens to collapse their world. This touching novel is a tour of what makes love work and what tears love apart in the modern world.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription

Alex has spent the majority of his adult life between two very different women—and he can’t make up his mind. Sonia, his wife and business partner, is everything a man would want. Intelligent, gorgeous, charming, and ambitious, she worked tirelessly alongside him to open their architecture firm and to build a life of luxury. But when the seven-year itch sets in, their exhaustion at working long hours coupled with their failed attempts at starting a family get the best of them. Alex soon finds himself kindling an affair with his college lover, Ivona. The young Polish woman who worked in a Catholic mission is the polar opposite of Sonia: dull, passive, taciturn, and plain. Despite having little in common with Ivona, Alex is inexplicably drawn to her while despising himself for it. Torn between his highbrow marriage and his lowbrow affair, Alex is stuck within a spiraling threesome. But when Ivona becomes pregnant, life takes an unexpected turn, and Alex is puzzled...

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