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Austerlitz  By  cover art

Austerlitz

By: W. G. Sebald
Narrated by: Richard Matthews
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Publisher's Summary

Austerlitz, the internationally acclaimed masterpiece by "one of the most gripping writers imaginable" (The New York Review of Books), is the story of a man's search for the answer to his life's central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, one Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and, obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, he follows their trail back to the world he left behind a half century before. There, faced with the void at the heart of 20th-century Europe, he struggles to rescue his heritage from oblivion.

©2017 W. G. Sebald (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"W.G. Sebald is a monster - a gorgeous and unwaveringly assured writer, a bold formal innovator, and a man always plunging into the core of identity, singular and national. In Austerlitz, he's created his richest and most emotionally devastating story, and this book might be his finest." (Dave Eggers, "who has no right to be commenting on this man")
"With untraceable swiftness and assurance, W.G. Sebald's writing conjures from the details and sequences of daily life, and their circumstances and encounters, from apparent chance and its unsounded calculus, the dimension of dream and a sense of the depth of time that make his books, one by one, indispensable. He evokes at once the minutiae and the vastness of individual existence, the inconsolable sorrow of history and the scintillating beauty of the moment and its ground of memory. Each book seems to be something that surely was impossible, and each (upon every re-reading) is unique and astonishing." (W. S. Merwin)

What listeners say about Austerlitz

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

To each their own

2.5
A combination of Roth and Patrick Modiano, yet not as good as either in my opinion. I won’t fight anyone that loves this book—sometimes you’ll read some images or sentences that will knock you off your feet—but if someone asked me what this book was about, I wouldn’t know what to say besides what the blurb says. The novel is kind of odd and hypnotic, for me in a boring way but I’m sure some people will love it. With books like these I’m torn between how good I think the book is, like do I see it being studied in the future, and how much I enjoyed it. On the first front maybe a 3.5/4, I don’t think it’s as innovative or smart as some people claim, yet it’s definitely gorgeously written and it does have good ideas... on the other hand, I wasn’t really taken by it. Not a 1 Star because I wasn’t suuuper bored while reading, and I didn’t hate the experience, it was just uninteresting. I finished it for an assignment, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Cannot be more than a 2.5 from me. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it, but if you’re interested in European postmodern literature (American postmodernism is very different, don’t be mistaken), if you’re interested in the reckoning with the past, especially with WWII, if you’re interested in stories inside stories inside stories, and in books that will have longwinded paragraphs and pages on minutia such as architecture and zoo animals, etc. And in books that are beautifully written while not having perhaps the most engaging plot (or any plot at all, really—there’s enough plot here for maybe 50 pages in most writers’ pens, but Sebald extends this to 300, which is both a good and bad thing, depending on how you look at it), then you might enjoy this book. Even if I didn’t love this book, don’t think this is a bad book. This is a very good book. If you’re looking for a good book and what I said above interests you, check this out.

8 people found this helpful

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  • DJ
  • 04-20-18

A Novel of Memory

Reading W.G. Sebald takes some getting used to. Like many of his stories, "Austerlitz" focuses on memory, and how what we remember influences the way we live our lives. Further, the integration of facts, data, images, and other items generally associated with nonfiction makes a Sebald novel in some ways closer to an essay. The performance was strong, capturing the detachment of both the narrator and the main character. I recommended out.

5 people found this helpful

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Audio version review - Don't hold your breath...

… or you might black out! Seriously, the orator must have lungs the size of a hot air balloon. The character Austerlitz is basically a cross between The Rainman and Forest Gump. I’m soooo glad this is a work of fiction. But just imagine what it must be like to have the author as your English (or German) professor? Listening to him blowing on for hours at a time in the lecture hall would be a death sentence. I can just see all his students mummified in their chairs by listening to him dryly lecture about proper grammar – not even giving off a smell for lack of any moisture remaining in their dusty corpses due to him blowing on endlessly…

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Moving story extremely well narrated

This is a moving story of a man who was brought as a child to the UK researching the past and the fate of his parents. The novel is very well written, literal and beautiful in its details. The weakest part is the end, which is too abrupt. The narration is outstanding.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Masterful!

An enthralling performance of one of the most moving, unusual and inegmatic works of fiction I have ever read.

I suspect Sebald himself would have been pleased with the reader's rendition of his work. Hauntingly beautiful!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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have read this book many times. interesting listen

Where does Austerlitz rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

the book itself is #1 in my life, the voice was irritating and pompous

Who was your favorite character and why?

austerlitz: deep, observant, humble, tragic

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

yes, the story is mostly non linear, remembrances and insights

If you could rename Austerlitz, what would you call it?

travel to landscapes of soul

Any additional comments?

one of the best books written...ever

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Meh

I listened to this book in preparation for a trip to Prague after finding a list of "books about Prague." Prague is a minimal part of the story. The language and imagery is beautiful, but the reader is too hurried (and listening at 75% is too slow), and the story jumps around in ways that are difficult to follow. The book is a nice study about the effects of childhood loss and emotional deprivation, as the main character spends his life studying, studying, studying, but there is no real "character arc", just some revelations at the end. Probably a better READ than a LISTEN.

1 person found this helpful

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Too Rambling

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps a true history buff might enjoy this book. For me, the story line was presented very dryly and without emotion. The style was a little rambling, so that I had to keep going back and repeating some area. I found the ending abrupt, without closure.

1 person found this helpful