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Online Book talk: Michael Lipkin, translator of An Ordinary Youth, by Walter Kempowski

February 8 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

An Ordinary Youth by Walter KempowskiFrom the author of the seminal All For Nothing, comes An Ordinary Youth: an astonishing autobiographical novel and a chilling exploration of how one family adjusted to life under the Nazis.

Join The Wiener Holocaust Library for a talk by the translator of Walter Kempowski’s important work. Growing up in Rostock, in the north of Germany, Kempowski had a comfortable upbringing. But, as the country rolled toward war, the attitudes of his teachers, peers and family began to slide, and it wasn’t long before the roar of falling bombs, charged silences and mounting intolerance begin to puncture Walter’s carefree youth.

Following the Kempowski family from the months before the outbreak of war through to the fall of Berlin, An Ordinary Youth is the fascinating story of an ordinary childhood in extraordinary times. All the while, the horrors of Nazism loom in the peripheries – communicated in furtive looks or hushed conversations – running alongside the Kempowski family’s daily life.

Written in a richly layered choir of voices – referencing songs, advertisements, literature, films and political slogans of the time – it weaves an impressionistic, expansive and hugely evocative portrait of war-time Germany, and reveals the many forms that complicity can take. A bestseller upon publication in Germany, it remains one of the most successful and acclaimed works by this leading post-war writer.

About the author

Walter Kempowski (1929 – 2007) was one of Germany’s most important post-war writers, known for his acclaimed collection of first-hand accounts of the Second World War, including Swansong 1945. He is also the author of many novels, including Homeland and All For Nothing, which was a bestseller in both Germany and the UK.

About the speaker

Michael Lipkin is a writer, translator, and professor of German literature. He was born in Riga and came to New York City with his family as refugees from the Soviet Union in 1989, thanks to the efforts of the Hebrew International Aid Society. He received his Ph.D at Columbia University and currently teaches in the Department of German at Hamilton College, where his work focuses on literary realism as a lived practice and form of life. His writing and criticism has appeared in numerous publications in the U.S., the U.K., and Germany, including for the Times Literary Supplement, The New Left Review, The Nation, The Paris Review, and the Merkur.

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