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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Transit (1942) by Anna Seghers

Book Review
Transit (1942)
 by Anna Seghers

  I read Transit back in May of 2015, but I case that was a crazy month for me, because I never wrote a review.  Half the reason I do reviews for each book, even for the uninspiring ones, is to simply keep an accurate list.  Anna Seghers is a rarity: East German, Communist, her perspective adds a new viewpoint to the canonical German language authors of the period.   Her unnamed (male) narrator of Transit, has escaped a pre-war concentration camp.  In Paris, waiting for the Nazi's to arrive, he inherits the suitcase of a German writer, Seidler,  who is well enough known to have secured a hard-to-get visa to resettle in Mexico.

  As the Nazi's take Paris, the narrator moves to Marseilles, which is the setting for the rest of the book.  Seghers memorably portrays World War II Marseilles, which is romantic locale a la the Cabana in Casablanca.  Seghers is too straight laced an author to have much fun with the scenario, but it is a more or less real life cloak and dagger scenario that still has considerable aesthetic appeal. Also remarkable is that Transit was written during and not after World War II- unusual for the World War II themed books in the 1001 Books list, many of which are written decades after the war itself.

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