World War II NovelsSix NYRB Classics
With this collection, get the human-scale WWII education that you missed in school—tales of marriage under occupation, childhood amidst cataclysm, battlefield horror, and the silences that survivors hear. Claude Simon’s semi-autobiographical The Flanders Road recalls a catastrophic encounter between French cavalry and German tanks. Three witnesses grapple with one particular act of violence—a captain shot off his horse—and its victim. In The People Immortal, Vasily Grossman’s latest to appear in English, we follow one doomed unit in the massive machine of the Red Army (and Grossman defends his title as “the Tolstoy of the USSR” — Martin Amis).
Patrick Hamilton’s The Slaves of Solitude takes us to a claustrophobic boardinghouse on the outskirts of shell-shocked London. From the beloved Magda Szabó, Katalin Street spins a story of childhood, ghosts, and guilt, set in mid-twentieth-century Budapest. Olivia Manning’s Fortunes of War: The Levant Trilogy returns to the young English couple at the center of The Balkan Trilogy. Everywhere the newlyweds step turns into a battlefield; they have fled from Bucharest to Athens and now to Cairo, where Rommel’s forces are bearing down and everyone’s seeking a last dance before the tanks roll in. And finally, a story of survivorship: in Aleksandar Tišma’s The Book of Blam, Miroslav Blam wanders the former Jew Street in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, and he remembers.