Literary Awards for The Reader
Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (1999)
I picked this book from the library shelf just because of the front cover. Once I read the summary behind it, I wanted to know if this book had anything to do with the unwatched movie ‘The Reader’ stored in my laptop. Isn’t it fun to pick up books at random and later discover that it was gem of a book ?
Michael Berg is a 15-year old teenage boy living in post WWII Germany when he gets involved with a much older woman Hanna Schmitz who is a tram conductor. Hanna loves listening to Michael reading to her and it became an integral part of their daily routine.One day Hanna disappears from his life with no particular reason. Michael is burdened with guilt since he feels that he has hurt her in some way.
Years later Michael sees Hanna in a court session to prosecute the SS guards who were responsible for the death of more than 100 women during World War II. Michael is not able to connect the Hanna that he knew and the woman in court who is responsible for such an heinous crime. The story moves on when Michael is forced to face Hanna as she is.
I truly loved reading this book which is so beautifully written. The book is about the generation living in Germany post WW II. The relationship between Hanna and Michael is depicted with so much honesty.
To some extend the author was able to tell the readers about the impact that the sudden disappearance of Hanna had on Michael’s life. And of course her sudden appearance too…
The part where I found it difficult to connect was Michael’s thoughts about the Holocaust. Somehow I was not able to understand exactly what went through the Germans after the war. Did they feel guilty about the Nazi era? What was the main emotion that guided the Germans during the war? His thoughts were quite vague about the war though the theme of the story is very closely related to the Holocaust.
The Reader was short and sweet and I finished the book within a day. I am planning to watch The Reader Movie starring Kate Winslet asap, which is actually the reason why I am writing this review now…so that this book review is not biased by what I see in the movie.
Rating : 3.5/5
Genre : Historical Fiction
Source : JustBooks Library, Bangalore
Year of Release : 1995
Originally written in German, translated by Carol Brown Janeway
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