I’ll be reading this again very shortly, I might even start later today or tomorrow, although it is rather intense and you don’t notice until late in the book and you contemplate reading it again. But it’s so incredibly good I personally think Sebald should have got the Nobel Prize in Literature at some point.
Fwiw, I’ve read a couple of W.G. Sebald’s novels prior and truly enjoyed both of them but a friend recommended The Emigrants long ago and it’s been on my mental “bucket list” ever since. I finally nominated it in a reading group and it made the schedule. I’m so glad I got to it!
by W.G. Sebald
1992 / 238 pages
read by Mel Foster 7h 10m
rating 9.75 / historical fiction
(both read and listened)
The others I read? I read Austerlitz first and I until I read The Emigrants I thought it was the best. Then I read The Rings of Saturn and it was also extremely good, but for some reason, not quite up to the level of Austerlitz. In general this man should have got a Nobel Prize at some point but that never happened an he died in 2001. Here’s an obituary: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/15/books/w-g-sebald-elegiac-german-novelist-is-dead-at-57.html
The narrative of The Emigrants consists mainly of the stories about four different fictional men as told by a series of character and an unnamed overall narrator who apparently knew most of them. (The overall narrator is probably Sebald himself as he reveals they have the same birthdays.) The men and their tales are connected by themes of the post-WWII years and the traumatic events in Germany. Three of the men left Germany, the fourth stayed, but felt like a foreigner in his own country.
As is very common in Sebald’s novels, the narrative is lushly illustrated by representative black and white photographs of representative subjects.
As would be expected there are many references to real people of the times. There is also several allusions to Vladimir Nabokov among other people or things.
These are the main characters but I’ll elaborate on their different characters in a later review – I think I’ve got them confused in my mind.
Dr Henry Selwyn
“Kissengen’s Jewry” https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/kissingen