A best seller in Germany and Austria, the English translation of Kahn & Engelmann was published to great critical acclaim. The novel tells the story of a Jewish family from rural Hungary; their immigration to Vienna in the great days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; their loves, business ventures, and failings; and their eventual tragic destruction. Narrated by one of the characters, Peter Engelmann, who wishes only to forget his past, this highly original novel recreates a vanished Vienna with salty humor and humanity. In a voice which is appealing without being sentimental, Peter describes his escape from the Nazis through snowy woods, his attempts to start a new life in England and Canada, and his decision to immigrate to Israel.
Written by an eminent scholar, himself a survivor of Nazism, Kahn & Engelmann is both an entertaining novel and a major work of Holocaust literature.
©2009 Hans Eichner (original text)/ Jean M. Snook (translation) (P)2011 Iambik Audio Inc.
"[This book] sits well among other books describing this period by authors such as Thomas Mann or Stefan Zweig." (A Common Reader)
Audiobooks that sell for such a low price are usually public domain texts, poorly produced. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It's quite a good book and a very decent reading. The story, a sort of family saga, is the story of Austro-Hungarian Jews, mostly from the early 1900s to the second world war. It is told (and translated) with much skill and elegance, and is overall very convincing and quite moving at points. Definitely a recommended audiobook.
About the narrator: as I said, Charles Bice does a decent enough job, and much better than the sort of reading you normally expect for this price. There was one thing which bothered me, though. This book naturally contains quite a few words and phrases in Hebrew, Yiddish and German, and Bice clearly doesn't know any of these languages. As someone who does, I found some of his mispronunciations, even of extremely basic vocabulary, a little jarring, though it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment. Another thing is that he starts the first person narration in a sort of "generic Central European" accent, but at some point seems to drop it and reads in a plain American accent. I wish he had done that from the beginning. But, again, these are minor issues and unless you happen to be a native speaker of any of these language you probably wouldn't notice them.
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