Ilma Rakusa: Steppe


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Love stories? Configurations of encounters, shifting relations, power games, failures. The tension between the closeness of love and the claims of the individual. In a language that is at the same time brilliant and simple, cool and intense, spare and eloquent, Rakusa juxtaposes the worlds of the real and the possible.

Born in 1946, Ilma Rakusa spent her childhood in Budapest, Ljubljana and Trieste before settling in Switzerland. She has published anthologies and translations from the Russian, Serbocroatian and French (Marina Zvetaeva, Danilo Kis, Marguerite Duras). Her prizes include the prestigious Petrarca-Prize for translation (1991).

Steppe (1990) is her third book of prose, after a novel (Die Insel, 1982), and the stories of Miramar (1986).

“If these seductive stories make eyes at the reader, they also manage to stay teasingly just out of reach… Love functions in Rakusa’s postmodern world as focal point for a reappraisal of sexual politics and metaphor for established power of whatever sort… I am prepared to do what she politely requests: “please don’t trap me in the narrow limits of your imagination.”

–Brooke Horvath, Review of Contemporary Fiction

“Prose so rarefied at times that it seems diaphanously invisible. Meaning wanders softly through a dream landscape of hazy indeterminateness.”

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“New perceptions require a new language. [Rakusa] has now achieved hers: striking, unusual, brilliant.”

–Elsbeth Pulver, Neue Zurcher Zeitung

“Not theses, but ‘voices.’ Not unheard-of events, but reflexive writing that runs to puns. Yet anything but ‘experimental.’ Rakusa is not interested in mere stylistic exercises, but in asking a variety of vital questions.”

–Hermann Wallmann, Basler Zeitung