May 30, 2020

This is how the next novels of the new Nobel Prizes begin

Peter Handke, published by the Alliance, will be entitled "The fruit thief or one-way trip to the interior of the country" and Anagrama will publish that of Olga Tokarczuk, "The Wandering." These are his first pages

The fruit thief or One-way trip to the interior of the country », by Peter Handke

This story began on one of those midsummer days when one walks barefoot through the grass and for the first time in the year is stung by a bee. At least this is what has always happened to me. And now I know that those days of the first and often only bite of the year, usually coincide with the opening of the white flowers of the clover, which grows at ground level and in which the bees frolic half-hidden.

It was a sunny day, also this as always, from the beginning of August, but, in any case late in the morning, it was still not hot and high, and increasingly high, the sky azuleaba, constant. There was barely a cloud, and if any formed: it dissolved again. A gentle breeze, which gave encouragement, blew, as usually happens in summer, from the west – in the imagination from the Atlantic -, cooling the bay of anyone. There was no spray to dry. As it had been for more than a week, when wandering early in the garden, no moisture had been noticed under the bare soles of the feet and, even less, between the toes.

It is said that bees, unlike wasps, when they sting lose the sting and that, because of that, because of the sting, they have to die. In all the previous years, every time I had been bitten – almost always on the bare foot – I had witnessed it frequently, at least considering the three-pointed harpoon, as tiny as it was powerful, that seemed torn from the inner flesh of the bee and around which something inconsistent and jelly swelled, the insides of the insect; in sight was, in addition, a being combating, trembling, shivering, whose wings lost strength.

But that day of the sting in which the story of the fruit thief took shape, the bee that stung me, barefoot, did not succumb. Although it was a bee the size of a pea, hairy, woolly, with the familiar colors and stripes of the bees, when itched, it did not lose any stingers and, after the bite, a bee sting as few – as sudden as intense – he rose buzzing, giving himself an impulse, not only as if nothing had happened, but as if, in addition, by virtue of his action, he had regained new forces.

The sting seemed good to me, and not only because the bee had survived. There were also other reasons. First, it was said that bee stings, again supposedly unlike those of wasps or hornets, were good for health, for relieving rheumatic pain, for strengthening blood circulation or for whatever, and, now, such a sting – once again one of my imaginations – would revive my toes at least for a while, which from year to year had weaker and callous, practically numb; by a similar fantasy or imagination, I plucked the nettles with bare hands, often whole bouquets, both from the garden of nobody's bay and from the terraces of the distant estate of Picardy – here, loess soil; there, chalky.

I welcomed the bite for a second reason. I took it as a sign. A good sign? A bad one? Neither good nor bad and in no way fatal, just a sign. The sting gave the starting signal. It's time for you to get on your way. Stay away from the garden and the region. Go away. The time has come to leave.

But did I need this kind of signals? That day, back then: yes, or that again it is just an imagination or a dream of a summer day.

I ordered what had to be ordered in the house and garden, I also expressly left this and the other where it was or rested, ironed the two or three old shirts to which I had more attachment – they had barely dried in the grass -, I packed my luggage, put the keys of the country house inside, much heavier than those of the house on the outskirts of the city. And it was not the first time that, shortly before leaving, when I tied the laces of the short cane boots, a cord was broken, I did not find in any way the pairs of the socks, three dozen maps passed through my hands detailed without appearing the one that interested me; the difference this time was that my two shoelaces were broken – for a quarter of an hour before I took them off I broke my thumbnail – that I finally made pairs with the missing socks – practically only those – , and suddenly it seemed good to get on my way without having a map (…)

"The Wandering" by Olga Tokarczuk

I am few years old. I am sitting on the windowsill, around me there are toys scattered on the floor, towers of collapsed cubes, dolls with bulging eyes. The house is dark, in the rooms the air, little by little, cools, weakens. No one; they have left, they have disappeared, more and more faint can still hear their voices, their dragging of their feet, the echo of their steps and some distant laughter. On the other side of the window the patio appears deserted. The darkness glides smoothly from the sky. It perches on all things like a black dew.

The most annoying thing is the stillness: thick, visible; the cold twilight and the dying light of the sodium vapor lamps that submerge in the dim light just a meter from its source.

Nothing happens, the progress of darkness stops at the door of the house, the eclipse's spokesperson fades away. A thick cloth is formed, such as milk when cooled. The contours of the houses, with the sky as a backdrop, lengthen to infinity, losing their sharp angles, edges and edges. The light that goes out takes the air: there is nothing to breathe. Darkness penetrates the skin. The sounds have curled up and thrown back their snail eyes; The world orchestra has moved away until disappearing into the park.

This afternoon is a border of the world, I touched it by chance, while playing, without wanting to. I have discovered it because they have left me alone for a while at home, unattended. I have certainly fallen into a trap. I'm a few years old, I'm sitting on the windowsill watching the cold patio. The school kitchen lights have gone out, everyone has left. The cement slabs in the patio have soaked the darkness and disappeared. Closed doors, blinds and blinds down. I would like to leave, but I have nowhere to go. Only my presence adopts sharp contours that tremble, wave, and that hurts. I immediately discover the truth: there is nothing to do, I exist, here I am.

I made my first trip through the fields, on foot. For a long time no one noticed my disappearance, which allowed me to get far away. I toured the entire park; then, through dirt roads, crossing cornfields and meadows covered with marigolds and furrowed by drainage ditches, I managed to reach the river. The river, however, was omnipresent in the plain, soaked the earth under the grass, licked the fields.

As I climbed onto the embankment, I could see an oscillating belt, a road that winded beyond the framing of the world. And, hopefully, you could see on it a flat barge moving both ways without repairing on the banks, or in the trees, or on the people who were on the embankment, considering them, surely, unstable, unworthy orientation points of attention, mere te tigos of his graceful movement. I dreamed of working in a boat of those when I was older or, better yet, to become one of them.

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