Pollak's Arm


Product Details

$16.95  $15.76
New Vessel Press
Publish Date
5.25 X 8.0 X 0.45 inches | 0.3 pounds
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About the Author

Hans von Trotha is a German historian, novelist and journalist who spent ten years as editorial director of the Nicolai publishing house in Berlin.
Elisabeth Lauffer is the recipient of the 2014 Gutekunst Translation Prize. After graduating from Wesleyan University she lived in Berlin where she worked as a commercial translator and then obtained a master's in education from Harvard.


"In Hans von Trotha's haunting novel Pollak's Arm ... beautifully translated into English by Elisabeth Lauffer, the setting is Nazi-occupied Rome on October 16, 1943, the Saturday when the Gestapo rounded up the city's Jews--the day when the barbarians came knocking door to door ... We hear spellbinding tales.--The New York Review of Books
"At a moment when war has once again come to Europe and the relationship between culture and conflict is headline news, 'Pollak's Arm' is a timely reminder that art is no defense against brutality, that civilization is a thin skein easily shredded once tanks and troops start enforcing their rough rule ... A love letter to art."--The New York Sun
"Nazi forces bear down on a Jewish scholar in Rome in Hans von Trotha's erudite novel ... Tense yet enthralling."

--The Wall Street Journal

"The novel resembles a one-act play ... capturing a life enriched by its commitment to art and antiquities and a man who makes an unusual decision when faced with a crucial choice. A work that weaves art and history into a fascinating tale."
--Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"Possible to read in one sitting but, once read, impossible to stop thinking about ... Pollak's Arm is a quiet and surprising masterpiece set during World War II, certain to make readers think deeply about history, philosophy and art."

--Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)

"Pollak's Arm is a poignant ode to storytelling, bearing witness to historical memory from the Trojan War to World War II ... marvelous enough as a short story. Yet von Trotha masterfully weaves it into a much larger saga linking to an ancient Greek myth and a sculpture. It becomes a Haggadah in the sense of a Jewish Passover story to tell your children over and over."

--On the Seawall "Hans von Trotha has told a beautiful, complex story in Pollak's Arm. In writing about it, the temptation is to keep quoting and quoting. There is so much in it; it's crammed with precious treasures."--The Rumpus"Gripping narrative ... extraordinarily persuasive ... Pollak's Arm displays keen psychological insights and a profound understanding of artistic sensibilities. Elisabeth Lauffer's luminous translation from the German is richly resourceful. This slender book is utterly captivating and highly recommended."
--Jewish Book Council
"This intense and exciting book brings back to life the voice of Ludwig Pollak who, when confronted with Nazi-occupied Rome's grim reality, powerfully conveys a taste for collecting, the pleasure of erudition, and an unshakeable faith in culture. This period of European history--remarkably captured here by Hans von Trotha--still has much to tell us."

--Salvatore Settis, chairman of the Louvre Museum Scientific Council and author of Laocoön and If Venice Dies

"Hans von Trotha has composed a small jewel of a novel. Set as the Holocaust reaches Rome in October 1943, it quietly evokes an archaeologist's reflections on a European life of scholarship and art. The result is physical death for him and his family. Yet this book offers vivid testimony of his words and actions in defense of humane culture against barbarism."
--R. J. B. Bosworth, author of Mussolini and The Oxford Handbook of Fascism

"This enthralling novel describes an undying passion for antiquity with an underlying theme of great poignancy. A great read."
--Philippe de Montebello, former director, Metropolitan Museum of Art

"Powerful ... Belongs in the category of literary works that obsessively reflect on a work of visual art, like Thomas Bernhard's Old Masters: A Comedy. Any summary of the richness of the dialogue ... would be an understatement."--Reading in Translation

"A book every traveler to Rome should put in their luggage."
--Märkische Oderzeitung

"Exciting and extremely moving."
--Westdeutscher Rundfunk

"Something special, that is, above all, something that will stimulate your thoughts ... The book is a treasure trove for those interested in art history ... With an intensely packed narrative, the very substantial novel deserves to be read twice."
--Literatur Kritik