The Good Soldier Schwejk – Jaroslav Hašek

Think of a cross between Dad’s Army and Father Ted and just as funny, this unfinished satirical novel by Jaroslav Hašek is the most translated novel in Czech literature. A trenchant anti-war novel, The Good Soldier Schwejk, like many a fine satire, still hasn’t lost its bite despite the passage of time. Thus the novel […]

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Foreign Book Review: Short Stories – Nikolai Gogol

Fancy some surreal satire? Then Gogol might just be for you. Often when you think of 19th century Russian literature you think of worthy tomes which you suspect might be rather heavy going. However the short stories of Gogol are a delight, of manageable size and definitely worth a read! As someone who has a […]

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Die Welt von Gestern – The World of Yesterday

Stefan Zweig’s The World of Yesterday is less an autobiography more an intensely perceptive historical account of fin-de siècle Europe-up to the start of the Second World War. It may also be the longest suicide note in history. In the book Zweig describes how Europe went from being a place of high culture where everything […]

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Foreign Novel Review: Das Siebte Kreuz – The Seventh Cross

I originally bought The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers simply because it was on sale in a bookshop in Vienna. Admittedly, this is usually not a good reason to buy a novel but it turned out I had bought myself a real bargain.  The Seventh Cross is one of the best books I have ever […]

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Foreign Novel Review: Schachnovelle – The Royal Game

One of my favourite authors, this is Zweig’s last work and probably his most well-known – at least in German speaking Europe.  Written just before he and his wife committed suicide while in exile from the Nazis in Brazil, Schachnovelle tells the story of a chess game on board a liner from New York to […]

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Foreign Novel Review: Jeder Stirbt für sich Allein – Alone in Berlin

Alone in Berlin is to quote the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, “the literary rediscovery of the century”.  Originally written in the autumn of 1946 and in under 4 weeks by the writer Hans Fallada, the novel gives a chilling insight into life under the Nazi regime whilst providing a testament to the endurance of the […]

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Foreign Novel Review: Fabian

Fabian, as its author Erich Kästner insisted, is the story of a moralist even though he clearly lives in immoral times.  The book depicts Berlin in the moral decay and chaos that epitomised the dying days of the Weimar Republic just before Hitler and the Nazis take power.  This is a Berlin, teetering on the […]

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Foreign Novel Review: Die Groẞe Hitze oder Die Erretung Österreichs durch den Legationsrat Dr Tuzzi – The Great Heat or How Legationsrat Dr Tuzzi Saved Austria

If you want an insight into Austrian humour (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then this is the perfect book. I mentioned to the Austrian friend who gave me the book that it would be a nightmare to translate into English, whereupon he noted that it would be a nightmare to translate it into German.  […]

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