The Passenger: A Novel (Paperback)

The Passenger: A Novel Cover Image
By Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, Philip Boehm (Translated by), André Aciman (Introduction by)
$16.99
Not Yet Published

Description


Hailed as a remarkable literary discovery, a lost novel of heart-stopping intensity and harrowing absurdity about flight and persecution in 1930s Germany

Berlin, November 1938. Jewish shops have been ransacked and looted, synagogues destroyed. As storm troopers pound on his door, Otto Silbermann, a respected businessman who fought for Germany in the Great War, is forced to sneak out the back of his own home. Turned away from establishments he had long patronized, and fearful of being exposed as a Jew despite his Aryan looks, he boards a train.

And then another. And another . . . until his flight becomes a frantic odyssey across Germany, as he searches first for information, then for help, and finally for escape. His travels bring him face-to-face with waiters and conductors, officials and fellow outcasts, seductive women and vicious thieves, a few of whom disapprove of the regime while the rest embrace it wholeheartedly.

Clinging to his existence as it was just days before, Silbermann refuses to believe what is happening even as he is beset by opportunists, betrayed by associates, and bereft of family, friends, and fortune. As his world collapses around him, he is forced to concede that his nightmare is all too real.

Twenty-three-year-old Ulrich Boschwitz wrote The Passenger at breakneck speed in 1938, fresh in the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, and his prose flies at the same pace. Taut, immediate, infused with acerbic Kafkaesque humor, The Passenger is an indelible portrait of a man and a society careening out of control.

About the Author


Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz was born in Berlin in 1915. He left Germany in 1935 for Oslo, Norway, studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, and wrote two novels, including The Passenger. Boschwitz eventually settled in England in 1939, although he was interned as a German “enemy alien” after war broke out—despite his Jewish background—and subsequently shipped to Australia. In 1942, Boschwitz was allowed to return to England, but his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine and he was killed along with all 362 passengers. He was twenty-seven years old.

André Aciman is the New York Times bestselling author of Call Me By Your Name, Out of Egypt, Eight White Nights, False Papers, Alibis, Harvard Square, Enigma Variations, and Find Me. He's the editor of The Proust Project and teaches comparative literature at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He lives with his wife in Manhattan.

Praise For…


"Uncannily prescient . . . The Passenger plunges the reader into the gloom of Nazi Germany as the darkness was descending. It deserved to be read when it was written. It certainly deserves to be read now."
The Guardian

"A jewel of a rediscovery . . . superbly translated by Philip Boehm . . . The Passenger is a riveting, noirish, intensely filmic portrait of an ambivalent fugitive, cornered but not captured, safest when in motion, at greatest risk when forced to rest."
Wall Street Journal

"Powerful . . . A prophetic and chilling portrait of the terror of life under the Nazi regime . . . compared to masterpieces by Franz Kafka and Hans Fallada."
The Telegraph

"A major lit­er­ary event . . . Boschwitz’s own sto­ry and dev­as­tat­ing nov­el are uncan­ny prophe­cies of our own time marked by the degra­da­tion of human­i­ty in flight, search­ing for a place to call home."
—Jewish Book Council

"A global sensation . . . a literary time capsule . . . Written in 1938, The Passenger arrives now as a remedy for the historical amnesia that encourages repeated misfortune."
Forward

"With The Passenger alone, Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz claims a place alongside the likes of Thomas Mann, Heinrich Böll and Hans Fallada as one of 20th century Germany’s greatest novelists."
New European

"Uncanny . . . This chilling time capsule offers a startling image of fascism taken hold."
Publishers Weekly

"Boschwitz's tale trembles with tension and eerily anticipates the central role the German train system would later play in the horrific logistics of the Holocaust. In a new translation, this remains a potent and uniquely rendered work of witness."
Booklist

"Vivid and disquieting . . . Boschwitz relates this fight for self-preservation—not just of life, but of identity—in harrowing psychological detail . . . An arresting glimpse at a pivotal moment in history."
Shelf Awareness

"This brilliant rediscovered thriller is up there with the best Second World War novels. The existential crisis that overtook Jews in Nazi Germany is rivetingly caught."
The Times (London)

"What a find this is, a novel that lay buried and forgotten for 80 years. It's part John Buchan, part Franz Kafka and completely gripping."
—Jonathan Freedland, Guardian journalist

"Powerful . . . extraordinary . . . The Passenger truly captures the sense of inner disintegration that happens when your civic and human rights have been stripped away and you become this other being, even to yourself."
—Lisa Appignanesi, author of Everyday Madness

"The Passenger, a newly recovered classic of the end of Jewish Europe, dramatizes the route to hell with indignant clarity, passion, intelligence, and rueful goddamned humor."
—Joshua Cohen, author of Book of Numbers

"I didn't want The Passenger to end—and not only because I was swept up in its restless, hypnotic style. This story of a Jewish man on the run has a Scheherazade-like quality: if he can stay in motion, perhaps the fate we know awaits him will somehow be deferred. A haunting and unsettling novel."
—Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

"Prophetic and flawlessly penetrating . . . Boschwitz’s tale of an individual scurrying from train station to train station across a homeland that is no longer home could not have been more prescient of the terror the Nazis would unleash . . . What Boschwitz saw clearly was the utter despoliation of one’s identity, of one’s trust in the world, and ultimately of one’s very humanity."
—from the Preface by André Aciman

"The Passenger is a miracle."
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany

"A chronicle of dehumanization with the pace of a thriller, evoking Kafka’s The Trial or Imre Kertész’s books."
El País, Spain

"A literary sensation.”
Haaretz, Israel

"A missing piece rediscovered, to stand next to Elie Wiesel."
Gazzetta del Sud, Italy

"A rare novel of daily life in the early hours of catastrophe. This masterpiece is the work of a 23-year-old author."
Marianne, France

"If you have to choose one book of twentieth-century history, read The Passenger. A truly exceptional novel."
Mažvydas Karalius Review, Lithuania

"Important and gripping."
Dagens Nyheter, Sweden

"If you have to choose one book of twentieth-century history, read The Passenger. A truly exceptional novel."
Mažvydas Karalius Review, Lithuania

"A tragicomic fable of the human condition and a comedy of morals and characters of exceptional psychological acuity, The Passenger evokes the worlds of Kafka and Charlie Chaplin." —Le Figaro, France

"A masterpiece." —L’Avvenire, Italy

"An incredibly gripping rediscovery." —SRF Literaturclub, Germany

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250811288
ISBN-10: 1250811287
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Publication Date: April 12th, 2022
Pages: 288
Language: English