Author: W.G. Sebald
About the author:Sebald was a German writer who was at the top of his game when he died in a car accident in 2001 at the age of 57. His is a unique voice, his prose a compelling mix of fact and fiction rendered in long, meandering sentences, occasionally broken by black and white photographs that reference the text. “Austerlitz,” his last novel and published in the year of his death, rightly won numerous awards.
Synopsis:: The story is that of Jacques Austerlitz, told by an unnamed narrator who meets the titular character in the 1960s and then encounters him several times over the next 30 years, hearing and then recounting the man’s story along the way. As a young boy at the outset of World War II, Austerlitz was sent from Czechoslovakia to live in England, never to see his Jewish parents again. Sebald takes his time sharing this news, and when we learn of his fate, it is when Austerlitz decides to return to investigate his old life and what happened, a quest that takes up the latter half of the book.
Reviewer: John Kenyon of Iowa City is the executive director of the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization.
I recently traveled to Poland on behalf of the City of Literature and knew I would be attending a book conference where Sebald’s work would be discussed. I wanted to be familiar with his best-known book before leaving. It was a wise choice, as it is a beautifully written, rewarding novel.
What books are on your nightstand?