Over a period of thirty years, architectural historian Jacques Austerlitz, tells the story of his life to an anonymous narrator. Transported out of Czechoslovakia via Kindertransport on the eve of World War II, he was adopted by Welsh Calvinists who destroyed all traces of his identity. Sebald combines fiction, memoir, travelogue and philosophy to create a very visual insight into the role of memory and remembering.
Translated from German. National Book Critic's Circle Award for Fiction, 2001; the Berlin Literature Prize; Literature Nord Prize, 2001, and the LA Times Book Award. [Larger font]
Well written, a struggle for some, but an interesting discussion which made it worthwhile - that is what makes a book group. Ngarb 001
A wonderful book, provoked much comment. Beautifully written and after initial challenges with the style actually very satisfying to read. Auckland 164
A challenging read. Wellington 165
Only one person in our group managed to 'get' this book and enjoy it. But she encouraged some interesting discussion.
A difficult book, quite different. Some of us wished we had had the time to read it again.
Mixed opinions. 3 of us thought it amazing! The rest were mixed.
I think that only two people finished this book - a hard read because of the page layout ( or lack of) and most of us were bored by the architecture history. The story of Austerlitz himself was interesting, but it took such a long time to get to his story.
It was a difficult read for most of us but led to a very good discussion. Some found the writing really descriptive, and weren't put off by the lack of chapters, breaks or punctuation.
An unusual, strange, sad, different sort of book. We appreciated the 'stream of consciousness' style, the long sentences, the wonderful word pictures, and the places and experiences he told us of....a deep meditation of remembering which provoked interesting discussion.
A difficult book to get into but well worth the effort. Quite different to any other book we've read; a second reading was very helpful. The notes were good and many of us did some helpful research on the internet.
Several of the group commented on the lack of chapters and paragraphs, making it a hard read. 3 people abandoned it. The remaining readers were enthusiastic. All agreed it is an unusual book but as a record of memories, unique.
Very interesting format. Difficult to put down. Well-written and moving. Great attention to detail. Profound and accurate development of a character suffering from Post Traumatic Disorder, and a searching for healing and meaning by gradually uncovering his repressed memories.
Most of us found this book hard going. The book length paragraph technique created a lack of structure and we found it confusing.
The style of writing of this book found merit with members, but a greater number didn't enjoy the read. Many found it melancholic with an incomplete end. A minority were impressed with its philosophical approach.