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The Reader

Schlink, Bernhard

147,591 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679442790 / ISBN 13: 9780679442790
Published by Pantheon Books, New York, New York, U.S.A., 1997
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Flash Books (Audubon, NJ, U.S.A.)

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1st Edition. Stated. 1st Printing. Full # line. New copy. Never read. Not price clipped. Not a remainder. Beautiful copy of book and dust jacket. COLLECTOR'S COPY. Bookseller Inventory # 000945

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Reader

Publisher: Pantheon Books, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Already an acclaimed and best-selling work of fiction in Europe (currently being translated into fourteen different languages worldwide), The Reader is both a literary surprise and a moral challenge: a riveting, provocative, and deeply moving novel about a young boy's erotic awakening in a passionate, clandestine love affair with an older woman, and what happens to them both when the secrets in her past are revealed.

Fifteen-year-old Michael Berg becomes ill on the way home from school. A woman takes care of him. Later, the boy arrives at her home with a bunch of flowers to thank her. And then comes back again. Hanna is the first woman he has ever desired. But there is something slightly off-key about her. His questions about her family and her life go unanswered. One day Hanna simply disappears. Michael's life goes on, but he can't forget her.

Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna.

The woman he had loved so passionately is a criminal. Much about her behavior during the trial makes no sense. But then, suddenly and terribly, it does--Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret.

As the past erupts into the present--both Michael's past with Hanna, and the past of Germany itself--Michael must accept that he will never be free of either of them.


Oprah Book Club® Selection, February 1999: Originally published in Switzerland, and gracefully translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway, The Reader is a brief tale about sex, love, reading, and shame in postwar Germany. Michael Berg is 15 when he begins a long, obsessive affair with Hanna, an enigmatic older woman. He never learns very much about her, and when she disappears one day, he expects never to see her again. But, to his horror, he does. Hanna is a defendant in a trial related to Germany's Nazi past, and it soon becomes clear that she is guilty of an unspeakable crime. As Michael follows the trial, he struggles with an overwhelming question: What should his generation do with its knowledge of the Holocaust? "We should not believe we can comprehend the incomprehensible, we may not compare the incomparable.... Should we only fall silent in revulsion, shame, and guilt? To what purpose?"

The Reader, which won the Boston Book Review's Fisk Fiction Prize, wrestles with many more demons in its few, remarkably lucid pages. What does it mean to love those people--parents, grandparents, even lovers--who committed the worst atrocities the world has ever known? And is any atonement possible through literature? Schlink's prose is clean and pared down, stripped of unnecessary imagery, dialogue, and excess in any form. What remains is an austerely beautiful narrative of the attempt to breach the gap between Germany's pre- and postwar generations, between the guilty and the innocent, and between words and silence. --R. Ellis

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