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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Speak, Silence by Carole Angier, read by Kristin Atherton.

The long-awaited first biography of W. G. Sebald - a TLS Summer Read.

W. G. Sebald was one of the most extraordinary and influential writers of the 20th century. Through books including The Emigrants, Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn, he pursued an original literary vision that combined fiction, history, autobiography and photography and addressed some of the most profound themes of contemporary literature: the burden of the Holocaust, memory, loss and exile.

The first biography to explore his life and work, Speak, Silence pursues the true Sebald through the memories of those who knew him and through the work he left behind. This quest takes Carole Angier from Sebald’s birth as a second-generation German at the end of the Second World War, through his rejection of the poisoned inheritance of the Third Reich, to his emigration to England, exploring the choice of isolation and exile that drove his work. It digs deep into a creative mind on the edge, finding profound empathy and paradoxical coldness, saving humour and an elusive mix of fact and fiction in his life as well as work. The result is a unique, ferociously original portrait that pushes the boundaries of biography just as its subject pushed the boundaries of fiction.

©2021 Carole Angier (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Speak, Silence is an extraordinary achievement. Carole Angier has been able to capture the genius of Sebald without trapping him in facile definitions, allowing his portrait the many hues and changing angles that those who knew him will recognise as profoundly true." (Alberto Manguel)

"It is a considerable achievement to unpick, so convincingly, mysteries Sebald has taken care to contrive. And to do it with such respect, and indeed generosity, that the great originals are burnished." (Iain Sinclair) 

"Carole Angier extends the scope of biography by turning her intense admiration for Sebald’s work into a personal quest for this enigmatic and disturbing writer." (Hilary Spurling)

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Profile Image for ahala
  • ahala
  • 10-19-21

great background

rather too much detail on peripheral friends who don't appear as main characters in the novels. speaker could do with more edge. but overall was like experiencing all Sebalds work in one sitting

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Profile Image for Joe Rotheray
  • Joe Rotheray
  • 10-19-21

Fascinating and sad

This is essential reading for anyone interested in Sebald. But the reading of this audio version is awful. The reader inserts long, totally unnecessary pauses after almost every clause, dragging out her delivery and sounding like the condescending narration of a children’s educational programme. Very, very irritating.