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Jonathan Lichtenstein

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. His first stage play Station opened at the Soho Theatre in London in 2000. His following two plays, Moving the Scrolls and Human Rights, were both broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

His stage play The Pull of Negative Gravity, about the burden placed on the families of soldiers suffering from P.T.S.D., opened at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival in 2004. The play transferred to the Colchester Mercury Theatre Studio and then to 59E59 Theatre in New York, and has since been produced in Sydney, Washington and Florida and in repertoire as Überwindung der Schwerkraftat the Dresden Staatsschauspiel.

His play Memory, directed by Terry Hands, was chosen as ‘pick of the week’ by The Sunday Times and played at Theatr Clwyd in Wales, and subsequently in New York, London and Chicago. “The writing is keenly observed and emotionally resonant,” said The New York Times, “Hardly a false note is struck in any of the play’s various strands, an impressive achievement given the breadth of its reach, from Berlin in the 1930s to Bethlehem today.”

Jonathan’s most recent play Darkness is about Christian Fundamentalism and was performed at Zoo Roxy at the Edinburgh Festival and then at the Lakeside Theatre in 2011.

Jonathan is currently collaborating as the writer with the Bharatanatyam dancer Shane Shambhu on a play titled My Inside Playground, which is due to tour this year.

In addition to the above, Jonathan has had commissions from The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff and BBC Radio 4, and has had two attachments at The National Theatre Studio.

Jonathan lives in Wivenhoe, a village on the Essex Marshes, with his wife and three children.

The Berlin Shadow is his first book.


Books by Jonathan Lichtenstein

The Berlin Shadow: Escaping the Ghosts of the Kindertransport

Rights : Scribner, Simon & Schuster (UKCexC), Little, Brown Spark (US), Suhrkamp (German), Mondadori (Italian), Atlas Contact (Dutch), JC Lattès (French), Kristeligt Dagblads Forlag (Danish)

“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.”
Susan Ottaway, author of A Cool and Lonely Courage

“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.”
Kirkus

“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.”
Santa Montefiore, author of The Secret Hours

"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.”
Ronald C. Rosbottom, professor at Amherst College, and author of When Paris Went Dark

“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 Cambridge Critique

"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.”
Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)

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.