An Inventory of Losses: Urgent invitation to value the present
Book Review: Judith Schalansky uses fine detail what no longer is to explore the world of what might have been
Judith Schalansky is the author of An Inventory of Losses, translated by Jackie Smith.
Loss of touch. Loss of mobility. Loss of certainty. Loss of income. The inventory of losses in the age of the pandemic is long. The catastrophic immediacy of contagious disease feels like an uneasy portent of the imminent crisis of biodiversity loss and climate upheaval.
Judith Schalansky, one of modern Germany’s most original literary talents, draws up her own inventory of losses and wonders, in the end, whether “being alive means experiencing loss”. Ranging from lost islands and extinct species to the lost poems of Sappho, the incinerated scribblings of an eccentric and the lost biography of an amateur astronomer, An Inventory of Losses uses the fine detail of what no longer is to explore the world of what might have been.