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A landmark of 20th Century literature about New York in the late 1960s, now in English for the first time.

About the Author

Uwe Johnson (1934-1984) grew up in the small town of Anklam, Germany. In 1959, shortly before the publication of his first novel Speculations About Jakob in West Germany, Johnson emigrated to West Berlin, leaving the East behind for good. His next three novels, The Third Book About Achim, An Absence, and Two Views, followed in quick succession. Johnson lived in NYC from 1966 until 1968 with his wife and daughter. It was during that time that Johnson began work on Anniversaries. Once published, the book was quickly recognized in Germany as one of the great novels of the century. He died in Sheerness-on-Sea, UK, shortly after Anniversaries was published, at age forty-nine.

Damion Searls has translated books by Rilke, Proust, Hermann Hesse, Christa Wolf, and others. For NYRB he has edited Henry David Thoreau's The Journal- 1837-1861 and translated Nescio, Robert Walser, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Patrick Modiano. He lives in New York City.


"[An] oceanic, nearly 1,700-page masterpiece....[it] aims to be comprehensive on every topic it takes up--among them, village life in postwar Germany, housing segregation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, media coverage of Vietnam and the lead up to the Prague Spring...It requires a hard chair, a fresh pen and your full attention--for attention is its great subject...Searls's superb translation inscribes Johnson's restlessness and probing into word choice and the structures of the sentences themselves, which quiver with the anxiety to get things right, to see the world as it is." --Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"Juxtaposing the tumult of 60s America with everyday life in Nazi Germany, Anniversaries chronicles 20th-century turmoil through the eyes of Gesine Cresspahl, who leaves postwar M nchengladbach to raise her young daughter, Marie, on New York's Upper West Side...Against the big-picture backdrop, we get a fine-grained treatment of motherhood and migration...It feels thrillingly spontaneous, almost out of control. You can certainly see why it wasn't all translated before now. But here it is: a novel of a year, perhaps the novel of the year." --Anthony Cummins, The Observer
"Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries is a book to live in: two volumes and more than 1,700 pages of roomy universe, robustly imagined and richly populated. Its streets are long, and its landmarks are varied. Sometimes the weather's sultry, and sometimes the pipes clang in the cold. But Johnson's rhythm is always patient, always mesmerizingly meticulous...Johnson's observations are indeed possessed of a peculiar, sprawling omniscience. His opus belongs in the canon of encyclopedic, modernist German-language tomes like Berlin Alexanderplatz and The Man Without Qualities, and it allows itself divagations on everything from the prevalence of the color yellow in the American visual landscape to the subtleties of Hungarian politics...His writing is inhuman, godlike in its immensity." --Becca Rothfeld, Bookforum

"Johnson's book effectively gives the reader forty or fifty years of world history and a single year of Gesine's life, every day from August 21st, 1967 to August, the 20th, 1968. Its scope is startling, from the social organization of a small German town, to Gesine's work in a New York bank, to her father's work as a master carpenter, running a business in Richmond, in London." --Tom Sutcliffe, Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4 "I am absolutely stunned and slightly mortified that I've never heard of this book before...I think it's extraordinary, I think it is a great late-modern masterpiece...How do you map Germany in 1933 with Vietnam? But, he does it, he does it in the first paragraph. It should be clunky or absurd or just slightly embarrassing, but he does it brilliantly. It contains the whole world....I was completely gripped, and there are none of the usual narrative handholds, there's no romantic relationship, you're never quite certain why she's on her own, who the father of the child is--all of those props are not available to us, and still it's absolutely extraordinary." --Kathryn Hughes, Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4
"European modernists used the novel as a means of mapping metropolitan experience. From James Joyce's immortalizing of 'dear, dirty Dublin' in Ulysses, to the grimy urban paean of Alfred D blin's Berlin Alexanderplatz, to Robert Musil's elegy for imperial Vienna in The Man Without Qualities, the city was no longer merely decorative scrim but a collaborative possibility, the ideal vessel for consciousness. Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl, a sprawling novel about an East German migr and her 10-year-old daughter as they navigate life on New York's Upper West Side, is a natural heir to this tradition..." --Dustin Illingworth, The Atlantic

"This book is truly a masterpiece. . . . It is a record, and an enduring one for our whole post-Hitler era. You have actually made this past tangible and--perhaps a much harder task--you have made it convincing. Now I know how it was and is over there--know it down to the tips of my toes. . . . This seems to be the only appropriate way to speak and think: about great-grandmother and grandmother and mother and child, in the interplay of generations and across two continents." --Hannah Arendt, February 7, 1972, Letter to Uwe Johnson "Johnson's novel is now regarded as a hugely significant work of world literature, and it is indeed huge--some 1,800 pages in the forthcoming two-volume publication from New York Review Books, the first complete publication in English....Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl lives up to the hype. In my reading so far, it's carefully observed, utterly propulsive and resonant with meaning about a year I remember well, and I can't wait to finish it, though I concede that it will take some time. The bonus for me is local--Gesine lived 14 blocks south of where I live now--but Johnson's writing invites everyone into its riches." --Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
"Uwe Johnson is the most incorruptible writer I've ever read, always searching for what we so frivolously call the truth. In Anniversaries he approaches this fundamental thing, the truth, from different sides, across different continents, across time. Page after page, we are shown how we need to see clearly, without prejudice, to think properly. Page after page, thinking with Johnson offers us the greatest of pleasures." --Jenny Erpenbeck "A gripping, complex, highly significant work in which the author displays not only his mastery as a storyteller but also his humor, irony, and descriptive power." --The New York Times "Johnson has Balzac's passion for the telling detail, the revealing exactitude, here a passion that is impelled by the imagination of love. So intensely are the figures imagined--Gesine and her daughter, Gesine's desolated mother, and all the tribe of Baltic relatives who variously endure and resist the Nazi scourge--that the ballast of Manhattan fact is needed to keep the book on the page, the life in focus, to keep the agony from getting out of drawing." --Richard Howard

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