Anselm Oelze: Wallace

Nominated for the lit.COLOGNE Debut Prize

Anselm Oelze

fiction, new

262pp (64,000 words)

Spring 1858. A letter leaves a small island in the Moluccas. Its destination: southern England. Its contents: an essay on the origin of species. Within a year, now printed and bound, it is causing a huge sensation the world over and becomes known as the theory of evolution. Yet it is not the letter’s author, the species collector Alfred Russel Wallace, who reaps the acclaim for this, but rather its recipient, the naturalist Charles Darwin.
Aside from his eponymous faunal boundary line in the Malayan archipelago and the longhorn beetle, Batocera wallacei, Wallace’s name is now little more than a footnote in the annals of natural history.

One hundred and fifty years later, the museum nightwatchman Albrecht Bromberg happens upon a book about the forgotten scientist’s fate. Fascinated, he delves into Wallace’s life and his expeditions to distant lands. With the assistance of Rosalie the librarian, he hatches a daring plan to make people sit up and take notice of the bearded scientist’s legacy again.

WALLACE is a literary memento to all those whom life and history have overlooked. This effortlessly entertaining tale of adventure and scientific endeavour, shot through with philosophical inquiry, transports the reader from Brazil to Indonesia via London and from there to a modern-day natural history museum in Germany.

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»An exquisitely colorful novel.«
Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR)

»An exciting search for clues in the world of explorers, full of imaginative storytelling.«
Ute Büsing, RBB Inforadio

»Thrilling, funny and amazingly well-writen!«