There are three books in various stages of layout and design this fall. The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota particularly excited to publish a novella titled The Cherry Tree which will appear as the second volume of a series co-produced with North Dakota Quarterly. The Cherry Tree is the first major Sorbian work published in English and its author, Jurij Koch, is perhaps the best known Sorbian literary figure. The novella was translated from the German by John K. Cox.
John has described the novella like this:
Set in the Sorbian-speaking region of the former East Germany, this unique and thought-provoking novella focuses on Ena, a young farm worker, who is torn between her family’s culture and the growing demands of modern society. She must navigate the conflicting demands and competing world views of her two lovers, Mathias (a Sorbian farmer) and Sieghart (a German engineer), even as she moves to Paris and then deals with the passing of her beloved grandfather. The story is tight and intense, with touches of magical realism as well as beautiful descriptions of nature. Koch’s pithy, accurate descriptions of life in Brandenburg and Saxony are animated by the author’s steadfast and heartening appreciation of rural traditions, the visits of a pre-Christian goddess, and…a surprise ending.
In my reading, the novella has a distinctly modernist vibe to it and I wanted to capture that in my page design while still keeping the overall feeling contemporary and tidy. As a result, I tried a new font to me: PS Fournier, which is a transitional font used for works like the first edition of Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and a 1930 edition of Thoreau’s Walden. I combined it with the perhaps most distinctly modern German font (and a Digital Press favorite), Futura.
PS Fournier is set at 11.5 pts which should make this a pretty easy book to read and enjoy and give it a pleasant “heft” appropriate for its significance. I’m pretty happy with how it looks and we’re just waiting on the cover and some final edits and this book should appear later this fall!
Stay tuned for more updates.