The New York Times
Europe Centralby William T. Vollmann
In this magnificent work of fiction, acclaimed author William T. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye on the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the twentieth century to render a mesmerizing perspective on human experience during wartime. Through interwoven narratives that/b>
A daring literary masterpiece and winner of the National Book Award.
In this magnificent work of fiction, acclaimed author William T. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye on the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the twentieth century to render a mesmerizing perspective on human experience during wartime. Through interwoven narratives that paint a composite portrait of these two battling leviathans and the monstrous age they defined, Europe Central captures a chorus of voices both real and fictional— a young German who joins the SS to fight its crimes, two generals who collaborate with the enemy for different reasons, the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the Stalinist assaults upon his work and life.
The New York Times
The Washington Post
- The New York Times Book Review
"A jarring, haunting, absurdly ambitious symphony of a book . . . It has an emotional force capable of ripping almost any reader from his moorings. . . . Vollmann has done as much as anyone in recent memory to return moral seriousness to American fiction."
- Steve Kettmann, San Francisco Chronicle
"Resembles War and Peace not merely in its scope, but in its perception of history as a determining force that individual lives merely illustrate . . . Aspires to the highest possible potential of literature."
- Melvin Jules Bukiet, Los Angeles Times
"A grimly magnificent dramatization of the impossible moral choices forced on individuals by these totalitarian regimes . . . if you have been following Vollmann's extraordinary career, Europe Central may be his best novel ever."
- Steven Moore, The Washington Post
"Profound . . . Vollmann asks us to put aside what we think we know of history and immerse ourselves in it once again."
- John Freeman, The Boston Globe
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 2.00(d)
Meet the Author
William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. Vollman's writing has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Esquire, Conjunctions, Granta, and many other magazines. He lives in California.
- Sacramento, California
- Date of Birth:
- July 28, 1959
- Place of Birth:
- Santa Monica, California
- Attended Deep Springs College and Cornell University
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I can't remember the last time I chose not to complete a book. This would be the first time in about 20 years. I quit reading at page 140. I've been reading primarily award winners and there are too many other good books to read. On the 'reader's sophistication meter', I don't claim to register any higher than a 'C+'. So keep that in mind when I state I found no enjoyment whatsoever in making it to page 140. The book is disjointed, full of reference to obscure persons, 'undefined' pronouns. Very difficult to follow, understand. I regard this book as more of an academic work, almost poetic. Definitely not recreational reading. Vollmann's intent seems to be to display his clever writing style rather than of creating a work for readers to enjoy. If that's what you want, read on.
A tour de force without be overwhelming. A narrative in intimately personal and moral terms of the clash of naziism and communism which rent the fabric of Europe, and drew in the world. The term 'historical fiction' does not do it justice.
Dense, meandering, oppressively boring, often incoherent, bordering on unreadable. The awards are for its subject matter i.e. fascism, creativity, nationalism, individualism, war and art and for the intellectual power of the author.
I am amazed at the historical details known by the author. However, a minor correction is in order. It was Goebbels and not Goring who had a romantic relationship with the Czech actress Lida Baarova.
... for anyone interested in the interplay between fragile humanism and the potentially crushing power of the state. Vollman deftly shows how 20th century fascism and communism were really two sides of the same coin, a coin that rendered individual moral choice, art and meaningful social interaction all but impossible.