Geoff Dyer Would Like to Clarify: He Loves W.G. Sebald, but Don't Mix Up Dates Here


Yesterday marked ten years since the untimely death of the German writer W.G. Sebald. The New Yorker‘s Book Bench blog commemorated the occasion with a post about Sebald’s work, where Mark O’Connell noted his influence on the writers Teju Cole, Will Self and Geoff Dyer, who “have been inspired by Sebald’s figurative and literal rambling.”

Of Dyer, Mr. O’Connell writes, “Dyer’s work—part essay, part travelogue, part fiction—sometimes reads like a less melancholy, more comic (and more English) variant of Sebald’s peregrinatory prose.”

Alas, Mr. O’Connell’s timing was off. Responding in the comments section, Geoff Dyer notes:

VERY happy to be mentioned in the company of the great W. G. Sebald but, just to clarify: although it was only published in the US this year my The Missing of the Somme came out in the UK in 1994 two years before The Emigrants was published in English. Out of Sheer Rage (written in the midst of a chronic Bernhard addiction) came out in 1997 and was completed before The Emigrants appeared. I’m guessing those are the two books that look like they were most influenced by Sebald – whom I love, of course – but they couldn’t have been! I was doing the “part essay, part travelogue, part fiction” thing before Sebald invented it! Geoff Dyer