H. G. Adler’s The Wall. Will you climb it?

I’ve jusTheWallt remembered that tomorrow the translation of H. G. Adler’s final installment of the Shoa trilogy is scheduled for publication, a stream-of-consciousness novel about a Holocaust survivor haunted by nightmares and having troubles to readjust to normal life after the atrocities of World War II. I first learnt about the book on Thomas McGonigle’s  blog. This promises to be a challenging and harrowing book, judging by the early reviews. Random House in their synopsis  draw the inevitable comparisons to the usual suspects when we talk about literary modernism: Joyce  Kafka,  and Musil. Out of the three early reactions to the book (by Kirkus Reviews, by  Publishers Weekly and by Historical Novel Society)  the last one is the longest and the most detailed so far. To my mind, the key sentence from that review, which is bound to intrigue any adventurous reader, is the following: “Since this is a novel unlike most others, the best way to read it is not to approach it like other novels.” We also learn that the translator Peter Filkins has generously added a list of characters and a summary of events for the reader not to be completely lost in this apparently disorienting  narrative without chapter breaks. A German language reader will be surprised to find out that  the German edition (the original title is Die Unsichtbare Wandt)  is actually out of print. Can’t help remembering that old Biblical saying about the prophet in his own home town. I expect to see more detailed reviews coming up in the next few weeks, but based on what little has been said on the novel in the English language information space so far, the publication of The Wall is certainly going to be an important literary event for all of us.

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