At first "The Emigrants" appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish emigres in the twentieth century. But gradually, as Sebald's precise, ...Show synopsisAt first "The Emigrants" appears simply to document the lives of four Jewish emigres in the twentieth century. But gradually, as Sebald's precise, almost dreamlike prose begins to draw their stories, the four narrations merge into one overwhelming evocation of exile and loss. Written with a bone-dry sense of humour and a fascination with the oddness of existence "The Emigrants" is highly original in its heady mix of fact, memory and fiction and photographs.Hide synopsis
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Never heard of him? I'd never heard of him until a colleague told me she was writing a major article on the last novella in The Emigrants; my book-illustrator friend said Sebald is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century; and my sister, the novelist, said the first chapter of her upcoming novel makes reference to Sebald. I got ahold of a copy, and wonder how I missed, previously, this intense, Nabakovian, what more can I say? Read it!
This is the work of Sebald's in which his theme is most easily grasped - the disturbing power in later life of early dispossession. But his manner of writing is just as strange and remarkable as in his other works - and, ultimately, compelling. The conclusion of Ambrose's tale may, in Sebald's quiet and subtle way, knock your socks off.
W.G. Sebald was a German writer who lived in England and tragically died in 2001 after being awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Austerlitz. This novel, The Emigrants, takes migration as its theme, which unifies four seemingly disparate narratives of German Jewish exiles, but the narratives are also haunted by memory and the past, the awful shadow of the Holocaust, while the present is marked by destruction: a ruinous hotel in Manchester, a decaying abode. Enigmatic, mysterious, with only hints of the historical horror to come, Sebald's novel has a somber tone, seamlessly combining fiction, autobiography, and photographic images in a beguiling mixture--a collage of fact and interpretation, reportage and analysis, journalism and poetry. What the narrator leaves unsaid is every bit as important as what he writes. Perhaps the late author sounds exactly the right note--the gravity of Bach's Art of Fugue?--for our post-9/11, milennial age.
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