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The Passenger - Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

The Passenger - Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz

Pushkin Press

Regular price €14,95 EUR
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Our take

Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz wrote The Passenger in 1938 in four weeks that followed Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, the pogrom carried out against Jews throughout Nazi Germany in November 1938. At the time of writing, the author, a German Jew, was only 23 and had escaped his homeland some years before the tragic events of November 1938. The author’s short and tragic life ended at 27 as he was transported from an internment camp in New South Wales, Australia, to Britain. A German submarine sunk the ship he was on in the Atlantic.
His novel was rediscovered in a Frankfurt archive 70 years after its writing and has been edited according to the author’s instructions he conveyed in letters to his mother. “The Passenger” tells the story of Otto Silberman, a successful businessman and a German Jew, whose life and world collapse immediately after Kristallnacht. This gripping story follows the protagonist trapped in Germany and endlessly crisscrossing the country by train without any destination or place to hide. A desperate, surreal, and nightmarish journey into nowhere reminiscent of Kafka or Camus.

Publisher's description

Berlin, November 1938. With storm troopers battering against his door, Otto Silberman must flee out the back of his own home. He emerges onto streets thrumming with violence: it is Kristallnacht, and synagogues are being burnt, Jews rounded up and their businesses destroyed.

Turned away from establishments he had long patronised, betrayed by friends and colleagues, Otto finds his life as a respected businessman has dissolved overnight. Desperately trying to conceal his Jewish identity, he takes train after train across Germany in a race to escape this homeland that is no longer home.

Twenty-three-year-old Ulrich Boschwitz wrote The Passenger at breakneck speed in 1938, fresh in the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, and his prose flies at the same pace. Shot through with Hitchcockian tension, The Passenger is a blisteringly immediate story of flight and survival in Nazi Germany.

Praise and awards

Shortlisted for The British Book Awards 2022 Fiction Book of the Year

"A jewel of a rediscovery . . . superbly translated by Philip Boehm . . . The Passenger is a riveting, noirish, intensely filmic portrait of an ambivalent fugitive, cornered but not captured, safest when in motion, at greatest risk when forced to rest."
Wall Street Journal

"A major lit­er­ary event . . . Boschwitz’s own sto­ry and dev­as­tat­ing nov­el are uncan­ny prophe­cies of our own time marked by the degra­da­tion of human­i­ty in flight, search­ing for a place to call home."
Jewish Book Council

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