The Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons
Author: Monica Cantieni
Translated by Donal Mclaughlin
9780857428363 | PB | pp. 232 | 2021 | Seagull Books
The Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons is a fascinating glimpse into Swiss life as described by a young girl. Featuring a host of interesting characters this book is sure to delight.
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“My father bought me from the council for 365 francs,” recalls the narrator Monica Catieni in The Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons. She’s a young girl, an immigrant to Switzerland whose adoption has yet to be finalized. When she finally moves into her new home with her new family, she recounts her days in the orphanage and how starkly different her life is now. Her new community speaks German, a language foreign to her, and she collects words and phrases in matchboxes. Though her relationship with her adoptive parents is strained, she bonds with her adoptive grandfather, Tat, and together they create the eponymous Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons. Set in the time of the crucial 1970 Swiss referendum on immigration, the book introduces us to a host of colorful characters who struggle to make Switzerland their home: Eli, the Spanish bricklayer; Toni, the Italian factory worker with movie star looks; Madame Jelisaweta, the Yugoslav hairdresser; and Milena, the mysterious girl in the wardrobe. This is a book with a very warm heart, and rarely has a young girl’s narrative been at once so uproariously hilarious and so deeply moving.
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About the Contributors
The author is head of multimedia in the Culture Department of Swiss Radio and Television. She currently lives in Wettingen and Vienna. She debuted as a writer with Hieronymus’ Kinder in 1996. The German edition of The Encyclopaedia of Good Reasons was Shortlisted for the prestigious Swiss Book Prize in 2011.
The translator has translated over 100 writers for the New Swiss Writing anthologies (2008-2011). For Seagull Books, he has translated several books by Urs Widmer as well as Abbas Khider’s The Village Indian.
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