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ebook / ISBN-13: 9780349014692

Price: £8.99

ON SALE: 2nd December 2021

Genre: Europe / Central Europe / Germany

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INTRODUCED BY STUART EVERS: ‘A genuine, fully fledged masterpiece of the twentieth century; one that remains just as terrifyingly relevant and truthful in the twenty-first’

An existential, political, literary thriller first published in 1944, that explores the plight of the refugee with extraordinary compassion and insight. Written by Anna Seghers, one of Germany’s most revered and important twentieth-century writers.

Having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in Germany and later a camp in Rouen, the nameless twenty-seven-year-old narrator of Seghers’s multilayered masterpiece finds himself in the dusty seaport of Marseille. Along the way he is asked to deliver a letter to a writer named Weidel in Paris, who he discovered has killed himself, leaving behind a suitcase containing the manuscript of a novel – and an exit visa to leave France. As he makes his way to Marseille to find Weidel’s widow, the narrator assumes the identity of a refugee named Seidler, though the authorities think he is really Weidel. There in the giant waiting room of Marseille, the narrator converses with the desperate refugees, listening to their stories over pizza and wine, while also gradually piecing together the story of Weidel, whose manuscript has shattered the narrator’s “deathly boredom,” bringing him to a deeper awareness of the transitory world the refugees inhabit as they wait and wait for that most precious of possessions: transit papers.


Transit belongs to those books that entered my life, and which I continue to engage with in my writing, so much so that I have to pick it up every couple of years to see what has happened between me and it
Christa Wolf
This novel, completed in 1942, is in my opinion the most beautiful Seghers has written . . . I doubt that our post-1933 literature can point to many books that have been written with such somnambulistic sureness and are almost flawless
Heinrich Boll
No reader will question the author's sincerity as she strives to anatomize the refugee mind
New York Times Book Review
One the most respected and important German authors of the 20th century . . . an important untold story of the refugee situation in Second World War-era Europe . . . A masterpiece
Joe Winkler, Vol. 1 Brooklyn
What makes Seghers's story so convincing is the human authenticity of her characters, and the masterly panorama of Vichy Marseille, that 'tiny spigot through which the world flood of Europe's fleeing thousands sought to pour.' Often as that heart-choking picture has been drawn before, both in factual reports and fiction, Seghers's presentation will stir the reader's imagination to its depth
Saturday Review
In political, cultural and artistic terms, Transit offers a vital reading experience: one that is more than just a keen-eyed depiction of a dark and desperate time, but a radical, constantly evolving narrative that delves to the heart of what it is to be human in an inhuman society . . . a genuine, fully fledged masterpiece
Stuart Evers
Transit is an eerily poignant read some eighty years after it was first published . . . It is a thriller, yes, but it is a strange one. It might also be called a tragicomedy. Its brilliance has to with this unpindownable-ness. It has to do with the contrast between the genre elements of the novel and the stark, autobiographical realism grounding the narrative. With the way that Seghers artfully renders her characters - comically, tenderly, at times unsympathetically. In big and small ways, the novel resonates
Lauren Aimee Curtis, Granta Magazine