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The Reader
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Part of the Phoenix 'Eyewitness to History' promotion

About the Author

Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany in 1944. A professor of law at the University of Berlin and a practising judge, he is the author of the major international best-selling novel The Reader as well as several prize-winning crime novels. He lives in Bonn and Berlin.

Reviews

When Michael Berg began attending the Nazi war trials as part of a college class, he never expected to find Hanna-an older woman who had seduced him when he was a teenager-as one of the accused. Berg is himself paralyzed by a moral dilemma that may free her, but also destroy her. Schlink uses this intriguing and complex relationship to engage issues of identity, ego and freedom of choice that are emphasized within the backdrop of the Holocaust. Campbell Scott proves an excellent narrator, with an eloquent and precise tone that gives a reflective distance to this first-person account, emphasizing the Berg's evolution as he grows from youth into adult. Scott's deliberate delivery also emphasizes Berg's emerging maturity; initially, his deliberateness hints at insecurity while later on, Scott's steady reading indicates experience. A Vintage paperback. (Dec.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Deeply moving, sensitive enough to make me wince, a Holocaust novel, but light years away from the common run -- Ruth Rendell * Sunday Telegraph *
Schlink's extraordinary novel The Reader is a compelling meditation on the connections between Germany's past and its present, dramatised with extreme emotional intelligence as the story of a relationship between the narrator and an older woman. It has won deserved praise across Europe for the tact and power with which it handles its material, both erotic and philosophical * Independent *
Leaps national boundaries and speaks straight to the heart . . . a moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful work * New York Times *
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is the German novel I have been waiting for: it objectifies the Holocaust and legitimately makes all mankind responsible -- Sir Peter Hall * Observer *
For generations to come, people will be reading and marvelling over Bernhard Schlink's The Reader * Evening Standard *
Haunting and unforgettable * Literary Review *
[Schlink] explores the conflict between generations, wrestling with collective guilt and individual motivation. He examines the nature if understanding and tests the limits of forgiveness. He does these things with honesty, restraint and a moral precision both unsettling and rare. The result is as compelling as any thriller * The Times *
A stunning examination of evil, this novel explores crime and punishment, love and guilt, dignity and degradation. * GOOD BOOK GUIDE *

After falling ill on the street in the German town where he lives, 15-year-old Michael is helped by a woman named Hanna. When he returns to her apartment to thank her several months later, he begins a passionate love affair with her. In time, she demands that he read aloud to her before they make love, and they essay some of Germany's and the world's great literature together. One day, however, Hanna disappears without saying farewell, and Michael grieves and believes it to be his fault. He finds her again years later when, as a law student, he encounters her as the defendant in a court case. To reveal more of the plot would be unfair, but this very readable novel by German author Schlink probes the nature of love, guilt, and responsibility while painting a sympathetic portrait of Michael and an achingly complex picture of Hanna. Recommended for most collections.‘Michael T. O'Pecko, Towson State Univ., Md.

YA‘Michael Berg, 15, is on his way home from high school in post-World War II Germany when he becomes ill and is befriended by a woman who takes him home. When he recovers from hepatitis many weeks later, he dutifully takes the 40-year-old Hanna flowers in appreciation, and the two become lovers. The relationship, at first purely physical, deepens when Hanna takes an interest in the young man's education, insisting that he study hard and attend classes. Soon, meetings take on a more meaningful routine in which after lovemaking Michael reads aloud from the German classics. There are hints of Hanna's darker side: one inexplicable moment of violence over a minor misunderstanding, and the fact that the boy knows nothing of her life other than that she collects tickets on the streetcar. Content with their arrangement, Michael is only too willing to overlook Hanna's secrets. She leaves the city abruptly and mysteriously, and he does not see her again until, as a law student, he sits in on her case when she is being tried as a Nazi criminal. Only then does it become clear that Hanna is illiterate and her inability to read and her false pride have contributed to her crime and will affect her sentencing. The theme of good versus evil and the question of moral responsibility are eloquently presented in this spare coming-of-age story that's sure to inspire questions and passionate discussion.‘Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA

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