How big is the water molecule

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Wenzel Groszak, an oil drill worker on a platform in the middle of the sea, loses his only friend on a stormy night. After his death, Wenzel travels to Hungary and brings his belongings to the family. And now? Should he go back to a platform? He will throw away his work clothes off the West African coast, and head north via Malta and Italy to an extinct Ruhr area, his former home. And the closer he gets to his great love Milena, the more open it seems to him whether he can find his way back. Anja Kampmann's novel tells of returning from a foreign country, of trying to find your way back from a bottomless world of work into your own life.

Review note on Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, March 13, 2018

The plot of Anja Kampmann's novel, nominated for the Leipzig Book Prize, is quickly told, explains reviewer Andrea Diener: A Polish oil drill worker wanders aimlessly through Europe after the death of his colleague. Sounds like a road movie, but above all it is the "lyrical approach" to a novel, continues the critic, although she has little use for it: Even if she attests to Kampmann's feeling for the "nuances of the approximate", she would have thought a bit of volume, but at least a bit of a concrete analysis in this novel, which is occasionally apt to "discord".
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Review note on Die Tageszeitung, March 10, 2018

Reviewer Katharina Granzin asks herself after reading "How high the water rise" whether she was staring at a "literary photo wallpaper" the whole time, that is, whether there is really only wallpaper, or whether there is something hidden behind it, something that she just couldn't see (yet). Kampmann's impressive linguistic images are quite effective - the reader 'sees' Waclaw, he 'sees' the drilling platform on which he worked before his friend disappeared and he 'sees' the places through which this Waclaw then in an endless, timeless one Journey glides, but they want to be more than that, they suggest depth, a hidden 'real' meaning which, however, is not revealed until the end, so that the characters and places remain inaccessible until the end, we read. A "flood of images" opens up here - nice to look at, but inaccessible. Each sentence is a drop in this flood, but at the same time tries with all its might to stand on its own - that sometimes seems a bit artificial. A novel that won't tell - Granzin isn't sure how to find it. One thing is certain, however: the Vogel metaphors are slowly enough.

Review note on Frankfurter Rundschau, March 9th, 2018

Anja Kampmann actually comes from the field of poetry, knows reviewer Judith von Sternburg, and that, she says, you can see in her debut novel. Kampmann's language seems "poetic" and yet clear to her, just as a cold morning mist can be clear - no frills, no bright colors, a lot of pure gray. In her novel, she tells the story of a man who loses a friend on an oil platform in the Atlantic and then begins a journey without a destination, without a home, the critic sums up. The author always wants to stay close to her hero, she describes from his point of view and from his thoughts and yet he remains inaccessible - an empty vessel for foreign contemplation, an "artificial figure", says Sternburg. One reads too much the calculation, the technique, the velvet gloves with which the young author treats her older figure. Nevertheless, according to the deliberate reviewer, one should read on, because towards the end of the story it once again clearly picks up speed and life.

Review note on Die Zeit, 02/22/2018

Tobias Lehmkuhl feels reminded of the heroes and the appropriation of the world through language in Peter Handke's novels with Anja Kampmann's debut. What he finds remarkable is the story of an abandoned oil rig worker who loses connection to his feelings and whose perception of external things grows, not so much as a text about a search for home and meaning, but because of its non-linear narrative style, which sets the pace with memories and images throttles and rather slows down the plot and character development. A very special space for the senses is created, which gives the reviewer the feeling that time is palpable.

Review note on Neue Zürcher Zeitung, January 31, 2018

Reviewer Paul Jandl suspects that Anja Kampmann will manage with her novel to make literature appear completely new without having to do too much to get it. Kampmann's twist is probably to create a great silence with the roar of unredeemed feelings or vice versa. In any case, Jandl follows the main character through memories and the present, stories and places from Bottrop to Scotland, through gaps and continents, guided by a language that carries him leisurely like a calm river, broken up by images and motifs. Dust on his trouser legs, he recognizes what a moving, unsentimental text he has read about the width.

Review note on Süddeutsche Zeitung, January 29, 2018

Helmut Böttiger writes with fascination about this debut novel by Anja Kampmann, in which the life of a migrant worker does not fit into one big narrative, but into images of the highest intensity. Kampmann tells of a man who is sometimes called Wenzel, sometimes Waclaw, grew up in a colliery settlement in Bottrop and now works as a worker on the world's oil rigs. The reviewer finds it very vivid how Kampfmann lets the storm blow from the Faroe Islands to the Moroccan coast, as evoked by the Polish Poznań or the Hungarian Puszta. Böttiger is quite right about the fact that Waclaw remains more of a phantasmagoric figure. It is the crystal clear language that captivates him.
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