What Was Before


Author: Martin Mosebach
Translated by Kári Driscoll

9780857427182 | PB | pp. 278 | 2019 | Seagull Books

What Was Before describes how just one question can take a couple down a rabbit hole of exploration. What was your life before you met me?

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What Was Before opens with a young couple enjoying a moment of carefree intimacy. Then the young woman, turning slightly more serious, asks her lover that fateful question, one that sounds so innocent but carries toxic seeds of jealousy: What was your life like before you met me? The answer grows into an entire book, an elaborate house of cards, filled with intrigue, sex, betrayal, exotic birds, and far-flung locations.

Set against the backdrop of Frankfurt’s affluent suburbs, this elliptical tale of coincidence and necessity unfolds through a series of masterly constructed vignettes, which gradually come together to form a scintillating portrait of the funny, tender, and destructive guises that love between two people can assume and the effect it has on everyone around them. Hailed in Germany as the first great social novel of the twenty-first century, What Was Before is an Elective Affinities for our time.


Martin Mosebach
Translator: Kári Driscoll




Seagull Books





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About the Contributors

The author has published novels, stories and collections of poems, and written scripts for several films, operas, theatre and radio plays. He received the 2007 Georg Büchner Prize, the most prestigious German literary award.

Kári Driscoll is a lecturer in comparative literature in Utrecht University in Netherlands. He holds a PhD in German literature from Columbia University. In 2011, he was awarded the inaugural Gutekunst Prize for Young Translators.


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