Marrow and Bone

Walter Kempowski (Author) Charlotte Collins (Translator)
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Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
New York Review of Books
Publish Date
March 24, 2020
4.9 X 7.9 X 0.6 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

After World War II, Walter Kempowski (1929-2007) settled in Hamburg, but on returning to his hometown of Rostock in the late 1940s was sentenced by a Soviet military tribunal to twenty-five years in prison for espionage. His immense project Echo Soundings, which gathers firsthand accounts, diaries, letters, and memoirs of World War II, is considered a modern classic. NYRB Classics publishes his novel, All for Nothing.

Charlotte Collins studied English literature at Cambridge and was a radio journalist in Germany before becoming a literary translator. In 2017 she was awarded the Goethe-Institut's Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for her translation of Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life. She lives in London.


"Equally insightful, deep, and funny, Kempowski's book portrays one man's experience of a collective German post-war phenomenon: the desperate attempt of rationalizing what it means to live with the Nazi regime's devastating legacy. We follow the protagonist on his gripping inner journey as he navigates conflicting feelings of shame and arrogance, empathy and ignorance. It is the portrayal of this sense of utter disorientation as well as Kempowski's ultimate conclusion--that the only constructive way of addressing one's country's guilt is through a deeply emotional, personal confrontation--that makes Marrow and Bone so humane." --Nora Krug, author of Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

"Kempowski's Marrow and Bone is a staggering book about our blind spots, the dead who live within us. About the cruelty of the human race, which is more fundamental to our nature than the concept of guilt by which we seek to exorcise it. And about our forsakenness in the world, which is greater than the daily routines in which we try to find salvation." --Jenny Erpenbeck

"[A] subtly devastating portrait of how a life can be defined by memories of past suffering, even when those memories appear to be submerged under a calm surface." --Lucian Robinson, The Times Literary Supplement

"[Marrow and Bone] walks a tightrope between black humor and horror . . . the past bleeds, unasked and largely unremarked, into the present; in the end, neither German suffering nor German guilt can be suppressed." --The Guardian

"Fresh, wise, very funny and intuitive . . . Kempowski's laconic, all-knowing voice is impressively in evidence here in Charlotte Collins's nuanced, ironic translation." --Financial Times

"Kempowski's writing is reflective but rarely solemn. The tension and fear that permeated all aspects of life at that time created a somber world but through his lens it is the absurdity that shows through." --Bradley Babendir, Chicago Review of Books

"A pathos-filled black comedy of errors." --The Daily Telegraph