North Dakota Quarterly is very excited to announce the publication of the second volume in its supplement series: the first English translation of Jurij Koch’s novella The Cherry Tree. The book was published in collaboration with our partner at The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. You can download the book here for free!
If you like it, consider buying a paperback copy of it. The proceeds from all sales go back into our efforts to publish interesting fiction, poetry, and essays both in North Dakota Quarterly and occasionally as stand alone books.
The Cherry Tree introduces the reader to a modern world that is only a thin veil covering a more magical past. In Koch’s novella, Sieghart, an engineer, meets a beautiful woman and her mysterious family when he finds himself stranded in the countryside on a rainy night. This chance encounter draws Sieghart into an enchanted world laced with love, magic, and memory.
Jurij Koch is the most accomplished living Sorbian writer, and this short novel is the first major work of Sorbian literature to appear in English. The novel was originally published in East Germany in 1984. John K. Cox, Professor of History at NDSU translated the novel from German. He explains “This book is witness to the diversity and shared life of different ethnic groups in modern Germany and one of Germany’s best-kept secrets.”
Cox observes: “Koch’s light touch allows him to combine the environmental and the ethnographic, spirituality and modernization, and politics and pantheism, at the intersection of the Slavic and German worlds. The novella explores gendered approaches to the exploitation of coal and hydroelectric resources that endangered many Sorbian villages during the period of communism in East Germany.”
Koch’s style and story resists reducing complex situations into simple solutions and shows how the past, the present, the future are never fully distinct. The author reminds us: “Not everything in this world can be figured out.”
This novella is second volume in our modestly named “supplement” series. The first volume was Paul Worley’s translation of the experimental poetry workshop SnichimalVayuchil or Flowery Dream in bats’i k’op, or Tsotsil Maya which is available here.
NDQ has long straddled the line between academic and popular works. Cox’s translation of Koch’s The Cherry Tree is a great example of the kind of fertile ground that exists at this intersection. The novella is a serious work of literature deserving of critical appreciation, but also the kind of work that is accessible to a wider audience.
Like all publications from The Digital Press, the translation is available as a free, no strings attached, download. If you like it, though, we’d love for you to buy copy to support the continued effort of NDQ and The Digital Press to make more good books available in the future.