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  • Author: Anna Seghers, Margot Bettauer Dembo
  • Publisher: Virago
  • ISBN: 9780349014708
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An existential, political, literary thriller first published in 1944, that explores the plight of the refugee with extraordinary compassion and insight. Written by Anna Seghers, one of Germany’s most revered and important twentieth-century writers.

Having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Germany and later a camp in Rouen, the nameless twenty-seven-year-old narrator of Seghers’s multilayered masterpiece finds himself in the dusty seaport of Marseille. Along the way he is asked to deliver a letter to a writer named Weidel in Paris, who he discovered has killed himself, leaving behind a suitcase containing the manuscript of a novel – and an exit visa to leave France. As he makes his way to Marseille to find Weidel’s widow, the narrator assumes the identity of a refugee named Seidler, though the authorities think he is really Weidel. There in the giant waiting room of Marseille, the narrator converses with the desperate refugees, listening to their stories over pizza and wine, while also gradually piecing together the story of Weidel, whose manuscript has shattered the narrator’s “deathly boredom,” bringing him to a deeper awareness of the transitory world the refugees inhabit as they wait and wait for that most precious of possessions: transit papers.

Tagged with:

Anna Seghers / fiction / German / historical / international / Margot Bettauer Dembo / translation / world war ii / written and translated by women /