Bronstein's Children

Bronstein's Children

by Jurek Becker
     
 

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"East Berlin, 1973: an 18-year-old Jew discovers that his father's friends are holding prisoner a former Nazi concentration camp guard in the family cottage. The three older men have handcuffed the ex-Nazi to the bed and are interrogating and torturing him in an attempt to get him to admit to his war crimes. . . . Becker keenly shows the tension between members

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Overview

"East Berlin, 1973: an 18-year-old Jew discovers that his father's friends are holding prisoner a former Nazi concentration camp guard in the family cottage. The three older men have handcuffed the ex-Nazi to the bed and are interrogating and torturing him in an attempt to get him to admit to his war crimes. . . . Becker keenly shows the tension between members of the Holocaust generation and their children, who are unable to understand the complexity of that nightmarish era of human history."—Booklist

"[A] chilly, disquieting novel about historical slippage; about the seemingly inevitable decline of horror into a vague and generic recollection. The East German writer has devised something between story and allegory to evoke the cold generational millennium that separates a father, with his concentration-camp memories, from a son, adrift in a society with no memories whatsoever."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Mr. Becker, writing simply and clearly in an unstrained narrative, speaks with the voice of knowledge, and we do well to listen to him."—Eva Figes, New York Times Book Review

Jurek Becker (1937-1998) is the author of Jacob the Liar, Sleepless Days, The Boxer, and Amanda Herzlos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Eighteen-year-old Hans, a German Jew, plans to use his family's cottage in the woods to make love to his girlfriend, but he arrives there to find his father and two other men beating an aged, handcuffed man. The prisoner is a former Nazi concentration camp guard who had tortured the trio 30 years ago. While this ambivalent novel fails to develop its stunning premise, it offers a disquieting parable on the relationship between victim and persecutor, the thirst for justice and on the abyss separating Germany's affluent postwar generation from the not-so-distant past. Hans sees his father reduced from a Hercules to a sadistic torturer; his violent, confused sister is almost poisoned by a nurse in a mental home; his classmates' loutish remarks may be motivated by anti-Semitism. Set in East Berlin in 1973, Becker's believable fable profiles a thoughtful adolescent growing up in a spiritual vacuum. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Bronstein's children are Elle and Hans, narrator of this story, and his fatal heart attack opens and closes this story of Hans's last year at school. In flashbacks to the events leading up to his father's traumatic death, we follow Hans as he surprises Bronstein ``interrogating'' a former concentration camp guard at the family's forest cabin. After wrestling with his father's attitude, Hans decides to set the guard free. Bronstein's generation is obsessed, it seems, with retaliation for the Holocaust, while Hans takes a more humanitarian view. Unlike Becker's Sleepless Days ( LJ 9/1/79) and the blackly humorous Jacob the Liar ( LJ 10/15/75), this novel makes a positive statement. Recommended. Sandy Glover, Boise P.L., Id.
Eva Figes
Becker, writing simply and clearly in unstrained narrative, speaks with the voice of knowledge.
The New York Times Book Review
Richard Eder
[A] chilly, disquieting novel about historical slippage; about the seemingly inevitable decline of horror into a vague and generic recollection. The East German writer has devised something between story and allegory to evoke the cold generational millennium that separates a father, with his concentration-camp memories, from a son, adrift in a society with no memories whatsoever.
Los Angeles Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226041278
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
05/28/1999
Edition description:
1
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

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