One of only a few death camp survivors to fictionalize his experiences, the Prague-born H. G. Adler is a strong missing link between Kafka and Sebald in German literature.

One of only a few death camp survivors to fictionalize his experiences, the Prague-born H. G. Adler is a strong missing link between Kafka and Sebald in German literature. The New Yorker magazine called Adler’s first two novels Panorama and The Journey “modernist masterpieces” and The New York Times Book Review compared his work to Joyce, Kafkam and Gertrude Stein. Now his magnum opus, The Wall (Random House, hardcover, on sale December 2), the final installment of Adler’s Shoah trilogy and Adler’s crowning achievement as a novelist, has been translated by Peter Filkins and is available for the first time in English.

On Monday, December 8, at 6:30 p.m, Deutsches Haus at New York University and the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU will present a conversation on Adler's novel The Wall featuring the translator Peter Filkins, the writer George Prochnik, and Eric Banks, director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. The event will take place at Deutsches Haus, 42 Washington Mews (near University Place), New York, N.Y.

Peter Filkins discovered Adler’s The Journey by chance in a Harvard bookshop and his masterful translation began a major reassessment of the author by literary critics and historians alike. During his lifetime, Adler’s urge to depict the Holocaust in fiction caused furious debate and delays in his novels’ publications. The Wall explores this tension within the novel itself, and yet, reading the book it becomes eminently clear that Adler’s work illuminates the kinds of truths that only fiction can.

Drawing upon Adler’s own experiences in the Holocaust and his postwar life, The Wall tells the story of Arthur Landau, survivor of a wartime atrocity, a man struggling with his nightmares and memories of the past as he strives to forge a new life for himself. Afflicted with survivor’s guilt, Arthur tries to leave behind the horrors of the past and find a foothold in the present. Ultimately, it is the love of his second wife, Johanna, and his two children that allows him to reaffirm his humanity while remembering all he’s left behind.

The Wall is a magnificent epic of survival and redemption, powerfully told through stream-of-consciousness and suffused with daydream, fantasy, memory, nightmare, and pure imagination. More than a portrait of a Holocaust survivor’s journey, it is a universal novel about recovering from the traumas of the past and finding a way to live again.

H. G. Adler was the author of twenty-six books of fiction, poetry, philosophy, and history. A survivor of Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, Adler later settled in England and began writing novels about his experience. Working as a freelance writer and scholar throughout his life, Adler died in London in 1988.

Peter Filkins is an acclaimed translator and poet. He has published four books of poetry and eight books of translation, as well as numerous poems, reviews, translations, and essays in Partisan Review, The New Criterion, The New York Times Book Review, The L.A. Times Book Review, USA Today, The Iowa Review, The New Republic, Poetry, The Paris Review, and numerous other journals. He teaches writing and literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and translation at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.

George Prochnik’s essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He has taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is editor-at-large for Cabinet magazine, and is the author of In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise and Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology. He lives in New York City.

Eric Banks is a writer and editor based in New York. He is the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. A Mississippi native, he graduated from Columbia College and pursued graduate studies in anthropology and linguistics at the University of Chicago. A former senior editor of Artforum, Banks relaunched Bookforum in 2003 and served as the publication’s editor in chief until 2008. Banks’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Bookforum, the New York Times Book Review, the Financial Times, Slate, the Wall Street Journal, Aperture, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He has also served as an editorial consultant on numerous catalogues and collections of artists’ writings, including the catalogue accompanying the Whitney Museum of Art’s retrospective of Jeff Koons and a collection of the writings of artist Paul Chan.

Events at Deutsches Haus are free of charge. If you would like to attend this event, please send us an email to deutscheshaus.rsvp@nyu.edu. Space at Deutsches Haus is limited; please arrive ten minutes prior to the event. Thank you!

The lecture is co-sponsored by Deutsches Haus at NYU and the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU.

H.G. Adler's The Wall: A Conversation among Peter Filkins, George Prochnik, and Eric Banks is a DAAD-sponsored event. Additional support was provided by Random House.

 

 

 

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