David Starr Jordan was a professor of taxonomy. A man whose mission was to classify living things into systemic categories, he was obsessed with bringing order to the natural world. At one point, he was credited with the discovery and naming of nearly one-fifth of all the fish known to science. But the more he worked out the hidden blueprints of life on earth, the more the universe seemed intent on hindering his work. His collections were destroyed by lightning, fire and, finally, in 1906, by the San Francisco earthquake, during which more than a thousand specimens stored in fragile jars crashed to the ground. In an instant, his entire life’s work was destroyed. At this point, many people would have given up and despaired. But not Jordan. He looked at the debris at his feet, found the first fish he had ever named, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote, she took Jordan for a fool. She saw his story as a cautionary tale of self-overestimation and denial. But as she slowly straightened out her own life, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps he was instead a prime example of how to carry on when all seems lost. She began to research his life, not realizing that what she would learn would profoundly change her understanding of history, morality and the world beneath her feet. Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why There Are No Fish: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life is a wondrous fable about persevering in a world where chaos will always reign supreme.
Lulu Miller
Why Fish Don’t Exist
A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life (original title)
Kommode Verlag
296 pages, 15×21 CM
softcover, paperback, thread binding, with ribbon

Translated by Sabine Wolf

Seventy thousand years ago, a species consisting of scattered populations of no more than a few hundred individuals lived – for the most part, peacefully – in a corner of Africa. Today, this species numbers eight billion and is fundamentally changing the planet. We are this species. The emissions of greenhouse gases and the depletion of biodiversity for which we are responsible have occurred in a miniscule amount of time when set against the earth’s long history. Yet they are so extensive that they will affect our planet on a geological time scale of many hundreds of thousands of years. For this reason, Dag O. Hessen doesn’t mince his words. Drawing exclusively on hard research and avoiding sensational scaremongering, he lays out just how the natural world and the climate are faring today – and how bad things can still get. The greatest risk to our planet comes from various feedback mechanisms that could amplify already occurring changes. Yet human culture is also constantly changing. Could our culture, here and now, also be at a turning point? Will we be able to turn the tide in time to avert worst-case outcomes? This book makes a powerful argument that we have to do more – and above all, that we have to do it faster.
Dag O. Hessen
The World at the Tipping Point
Kommode Verlag
280 pages, 15×21 CM
softcover, paperback, thread binding

Translated from Karoline Hippe and Günther Frauenlob

Deeply in love, a couple decide to leave everyday life behind them and retreat to an island far from civilisation. Just the two of them, just as they are. Merely living together will be enough for them – they want to focus on loving and being. They arrive, settle into their new home and let themselves drift in the summertime island idyll. Soon, however, they begin to notice strange things: the grim looks of their neighbour, an old woman who stares at them from her rocking chair; an olive tree uprooted by invisible forces that falls in front of their rented car; a whispering that blows through olive groves at the new moon. Are these just the fantasies of the two protagonists? What is real here? And what is this reality stretching toward, layer by layer? In an environment of increasingly sinister events, the sphere of the lovers’ seclusion gradually threatens to engulf them between light and shadow – and as it does, many questions are forced on them. As in his novella The Lovers by the Dunes, Lu Bonauer writes here about love – in Summerland, about the undertow of a deeply felt love. But also about how in the wake of this wonderful force, lovers can risk losing their individual selves as they merge with one another in an intense relationship.
Lu Bonauer
A Thousand Layers of Summerland
Kommode Verlag
170 pages, 11×18 CM
hardcover, thread binding, with ribbon

On a public piano in the historical district of Montreal, a bewildered tramp gives a virtuoso performance of a Rachmaninoff concerto. This man, who knows neither his own name nor where he comes from, can transform a simple stew into a divine meal and carry out impossible calculations; he also babbles disconnected words in almost every world language. Moreover, the anonymous prodigy appears to be creating dazzling calligraphic graffiti in disreputable corners of the city. Who is this unknown man with the face of a castaway, known as ‘Phoenix’ to many of the city's inhabitants? What connects him with a virtuoso Chinese pianist, a masterful Spanish confectioner, a highly gifted English mathematician and many other geniuses around the world? A dedicated, idealistic social worker and a tenacious neuropsychologist with a blind faith in science set out to discover the story of the man with the mystical name. This exciting odyssey, narrated in a richly pictorial and eloquent style, takes us around the world from Montreal to Babylon. Wherever we go, we experience the mysteries of genius and the healing powers of art.
Marie-Anne Legault
The Phoenix
Kommode Verlag
380 pages, 11×18 CM
hardcover, thread binding, with ribbon

Translated from Jennifer Dummer

In her debut novel, Shubhangi Swarup narrates an epic love story, following the interconnected lives of diverse protagonists searching for real connection and intimacy as they venture across the Indian subcontinent. We follow a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who talks to and understands them; a geologist who wants put an end to senseless wars over a glacier; a pair of 80-year-old lovers; a mother struggling to free her revolutionary son; a yeti seeking human companionship; a turtle that undergoes miraculous transformations; and the spirit of an evaporated ocean as restless as the drifting continents. All are united by a vision of life as vast as the universe itself.
Shubhangi Swarup
Latitudes of Longing (Original Title)
Kommode Verlag
350 pages, 11×18 CM
hardcover, thread binding, with ribbon

Translated to German from Milena Adam