Chess or Chess Story is a novella by Stefan Zweig, a German-speaking Austrian author. It’s been published by a few of my favorite publishers, as pictured above, i.e. NYRB Classics, Pushkin Press, though I read the more humble edition published by Penguin:
The book is tiny. With 80 pages long, I wondered how it managed to be published on its own, and not with a collection of some sort. It’s borderline long short-story.
Stefan Zweig was someone that I’d been meaning to read for a while. He’s the kind of author that I may have missed had I not read blogs — so loved he is by the book blogging community. Though The Grand Budapest Hotel has probably helped to raise his profile more. I already have a few of his books ready, but as we’re nearing the end of 2016, with still quite a few book commitments at hand, I decided to choose his shortest book: Chess.
And what a compelling read it was. What story telling! The book is set in a large passenger steamer going from New York to Buenos Aires. Words go around that there’s a world chess champion on board. Thus the scene is set quickly. The setting is laid, the gun is out on the table.
We’re then told the fascinating background story of this champion, who you may think at this point is the main character of the story. But hold on, he’s not. There’s more to come.
I absolutely enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more of Stefan Zweig’s work. Should I read Beware of Pity next, or The Post-Office Girl? I also have The Society of Crossed Keys – a compilation of Zweig’s writings by Wes Anderson.
Mee’s rating: 5/5 – a satisfying read from a new-to-me author
Chess is my first entry for Austria for my Reading the World project, and German Literature Month V (my first time participating!). The book is also included in 1001 books you must read before you die list.