Wednesday, September 7, 2022

An earlier catch-22

Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, The Passenger, trans. Philip Boehm (New York: Henry Holt, 2021).

The Passenger is a short novel, written in four weeks after Kristallnacht. The novel’s history is complicated: it was published in London 1939 as The Man Who Took Trains, in New York in 1940 as The Fugitive. In 2015 Boschwitz’s niece Ruella Shachaf made the sole manuscript copy of the novel available to the publisher Peter Graf, who edited the text. The novel was first published in its original German in 2018 as Der Reisende [The traveler]. The new English translation, by Philip Boehm, appeared in 2021. Pushkin Press has sold more than 100,000 copies.

The Passenger might be described as a Kafkaesque thriller. It follows the efforts of Otto Silbermann, a Jewish businessman, to flee Germany, in the course of which his relationship to space and time is utterly changed.

Highly recommended.

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