Robert Menasse, the man behind the first great EU novel

When I first meet Robert Menasse at Cafe Lava in Brussels, he’s standing in the doorway covered in a cloud of smoke. “Why are you sitting there?” he asks. “Come into the smoking room. That was the whole point of meeting here.” Wearing black rim glasses and a tweed jacket, the Austrian novelist towers over the waiter as he asks for a glass of white wine. He knows the place well, he confesses. “When I lived in Brussels, I used to come here to smoke whenever it was too cold outside.

The author of the 2017 German Book Prize Winner, The Capital –Die Haupstadt, published in German by Suhrkamp– is in Brussels to talk about a novel that explores the minutiae of life inside the European Union and its institutions, the machinery behind it, how it operates, as well as its challenges and contradictions. The visit includes a talk at KVS organized by Passaporta and the Goethe Institute, as well as a book signing event at Librebook.