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The Passenger  By  cover art

The Passenger

By: Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz,André Aciman
Narrated by: Philip Boehm,Neil Hellegers
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Publisher's Summary

"With penetrating urgency and an innate feel for the author's tragicomic yet hyperrealistic interior dialogue, narrator Neil Hellegers gives heartrending voice to this rediscovered novel...Hellegers's superb naturalistic reading accentuates the complicated feelings of trying to stay human in a world gone mad." (AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award winner)

Hailed as a remarkable literary discovery, a lost novel of heart-stopping intensity and harrowing absurdity about flight and persecution in 1930s Germany

Berlin, November 1938. Jewish shops have been ransacked and looted, synagogues destroyed. As storm troopers pound on his door, Otto Silbermann, a respected businessman who fought for Germany in the Great War, is forced to sneak out the back of his own home. Turned away from establishments he had long patronized, and fearful of being exposed as a Jew despite his Aryan looks, he boards a train.

And then another. And another...until his flight becomes a frantic odyssey across Germany, as he searches first for information, then for help, and finally for escape. His travels bring him face-to-face with waiters and conductors, officials and fellow outcasts, seductive women and vicious thieves, a few of whom disapprove of the regime while the rest embrace it wholeheartedly.

Clinging to his existence as it was just days before, Silbermann refuses to believe what is happening even as he is beset by opportunists, betrayed by associates, and bereft of family, friends, and fortune. As his world collapses around him, he is forced to concede that his nightmare is all too real.

Twenty-three-year-old Ulrich Boschwitz wrote The Passenger at breakneck speed in 1938, fresh in the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, and his prose flies at the same pace. Taut, immediate, infused with acerbic Kafkaesque humor, The Passenger is an indelible portrait of a man and a society careening out of control.

A Macmillan Audio production from Metropolitan Books

©1938, 2021 Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

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Top-notch novel

With all the memoirs and true accounts of the holocaust, I sometimes wonder why we need fictional accounts of the events. I've read a few novels that take place during the holocaust. Most turned out to be romance novels set against a backdrop of the holocaust. Disappointing.

But THIS one redefines the holocaust novel, at least for me.

Written during the time the events were actually occurring, it captures something that many memoirs do not. It captures not just the growing danger and confusions for Jewish Germans following Krystallnacht (the unleashing of overt antisemitism and persecution of Jews in Germany in 1938), but the ongoing normality of life surrounding the Jews.

The book traces a sudden and terrifying metamorphosis of a successful businessman into a secretive fugitive in his own country. It captures the abrupt change in how people he knows see and treat him. The sense of anxiety and insecurity created when someone is suddenly no longer a respected member of society.

Boschwitz, whose own story (described in the forward) was tragic, captures well the desperation and fear that mounts in the mind of a hunted human being on the run.

The book does not describe the horrors of concentration and death camps, but captures a sense, a feeling of the time, as the ground beneath the feet of Jews in Berlin simply disappeared from under them. An absolutely terrific book.

Very well narrated, too.

16 people found this helpful

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Spectacular

Riveting story and performance. A window into the Kafka-like nightmare Nazi Germany was to Jews. Highly recommended.

7 people found this helpful

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Time travel

I felt as though I was there along side of Otto. It reads like a Hitchcock thriller. I can imagine how terrifying it must have been to be a Jew long before the death camps. The author and narrator puts in Nazi Germany.

4 people found this helpful

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Better story than narrator

Good psychological thriller. Elements of great writing transcend the novel from a period piece. The tone of the narrator, though, is of rushed suspense throughout. It gets tiring to hear after awhile.

4 people found this helpful

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Great story great narration

The narration was absolutely superb. I couldn’t stop listening and it takes a lot for me to remain with a book.

4 people found this helpful

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an almost real time chronicle of Jewish PANIC

The hour to hour panic of a Berlin collapsing in on it's main character; a successful Jewish merchant who crisscrossing Germany by train can't escape.

2 people found this helpful