Jonathan Lichtenstein is Professor of Drama in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. An award-winning playwright, Jonathan trained at Bretton Hall, and his work has been featured by the BBC and performed in theaters across the UK, as well as in Germany and off-Broadway. He lives in Wivenhoe, a village on the Essex Marshes, with his wife and three children.
The Berlin Shadow: Escaping the Ghosts of the Kindertransport
The Berlin Shadow is a haunting account of a journey of remembrance, discovery, and forgiveness. A beautifully written book which, once started, I found hard to put down.
As we wind backward through that ghoulish journey, we can feel the growing intimacy between father and son, acting as catharsis for not only the author, but also for readers. A unique and intimate addition to the literature about the Holocaust.
If you read one book this year, make it The Berlin Shadow. It is deeply moving, utterly compelling, touchingly funny, and so beautifully written that at times it takes your breath away. It taught me so much about love, life, memory, and time that I feel I have grown wiser and more appreciative of my own life because of it. Lichtenstein has a rare gift that I hope will be shared with readers all over the world. I cannot praise this book enough. Every adjective I come up with falls short. It’s beautiful.
The Berlin Shadow details with an emphatic honesty the traumas visited on generations of Jews who survived the war, only to find themselves, once again, marginalized, unwanted, and despised. Many will read The Berlin Shadowin one sitting, for the experiences of the two protagonists will demand a moral attention; an interrupted reading seems almost like a sacrilege.
A unique piece of literature; poetic, visceral, shocking, funny, painful and joyous […] Lichtenstein’s masterly book shows that shadows, however deeply cast, can be dispersed by even a small amount of light.
The Berlin Shadow is an extraordinary reading experience [and] a serious candidate for this year's best publication in translated literature […] The story of the father, Hans Lichtenstein, is gripping and heartbreaking in every way, but the book contains much more than that. It is also the story of the traumas that the persecution of the Jews inflicted on a child, and which for generations caused a family to inadvertently live for a long time in an unknown, inexplicable world full of concealment and unspoken losses. […] This odyssey back to the land of the past and childhood in Berlin has developed into a book of world literary scope […] It is an immensely beautiful book [The author’s] rendering of the dialogue between father and son on tour is Strindberg-like in all its might and dismissive absurdity. It's top level literature. […] The Berlin Shadow contains a universal message. It should reach many readers.
A deeply moving memoir that confronts the defining trauma of the twentieth century, and its effects on a father and son.
In 1939, Jonathan Lichtenstein's father Hans escaped Nazi-occupied Berlin as a child refugee on the Kindertransport. Almost every member of his family died after Kristallnacht, and, upon arriving in England to make his way in the world alone, Hans turned his back on his German Jewish culture.
Growing up in post-war rural Wales where the conflict was never spoken of, Jonathan and his siblings were at a loss to understand their father's relentless drive and sometimes eccentric behavior. As Hans enters old age, he and Jonathan set out to retrace his journey back to Berlin.
Written with tenderness and grace, The Berlin Shadow is a highly compelling story about time, trauma, family, and a father and son's attempt to emerge from the shadows of history.