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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader

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A 2013 World Book Night selection.

One of my favourite books of 1998, the sort that, on completion, leaves you stunned and really does stay with you for – well, in my case – years as it was 10 years ago that I read it but now, with the film coming, it’s going to be back in the limelight. That sensation of admiration is still with me. Clever, beautifully written, short, stark and hard-hitting, it is a tale of sex, guilt and shame with the holocaust raising its ugly head in an original and alarming way.

If you like Bernhard Schlink you might also like to read books by Christopher Fowler, Peter Robinson and Colin Dexter.

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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Below is a video of Ben Twiston-Davies discussing the sculptures he made for the 20th anniversay edtions of the Orion classics, specifically The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. The woman in question is Hanna, and before long they embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realize that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly, and terribly, it does - Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret.


[Schlink] explores the conflict between generations, wrestling with collective guilt and individual motivation. He examines the nature if understanding and tests the limits of forgiveness. He does these things with honesty, restraint and a moral precision both unsettling and rare. The result is as compelling as any thriller * The Times * A stunning examination of evil, this novel explores crime and punishment, love and guilt, dignity and degradation. * GOOD BOOK GUIDE * Haunting and unforgettable * Literary Review * For generations to come, people will be reading and marvelling over Bernhard Schlink's The Reader * Evening Standard * The Reader by Bernhard Schlink is the German novel I have been waiting for: it objectifies the Holocaust and legitimately makes all mankind responsible -- Sir Peter Hall * Observer * Leaps national boundaries and speaks straight to the heart . . . a moving, suggestive and ultimately hopeful work * New York Times * Schlink's extraordinary novel The Reader is a compelling meditation on the connections between Germany's past and its present, dramatised with extreme emotional intelligence as the story of a relationship between the narrator and an older woman. It has won deserved praise across Europe for the tact and power with which it handles its material, both erotic and philosophical * Independent * Deeply moving, sensitive enough to make me wince, a Holocaust novel, but light years away from the common run -- Ruth Rendell * Sunday Telegraph *

About the Author

Bernhard Schlink

Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany is 1944. A professor of law at Humboldt University, Berlin and Cardozo Law School, New York, he is the author of the major international bestselling novel and movie The Reader, short story collection Flights of Love and several prize-winning crime novels. He lives in Berlin and New York.

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Book Info

Publication date

28th February 1998


Bernhard Schlink

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Orion Publishing Co


240 pages


Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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