The first choice of the reading group this year was W. G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz. This highly unusual work, described variously by critics as ‘mesmeric…haunting…heartbreakingly tragic and a work of obvious genius’ proved to be a popular selection. Students were not put off by four hundred pages of multi-layered narrative, whole sections devoted to architecture, a meandering plot and an inconclusive ending. Indeed, the strange mixture of fiction, memoir, travelogue and philosophy is what seems to have appealed to members of the group. Even the lack of paragraphing and sentences that sometimes carry on for several pages could not detract from an appreciation of Sebald’s innovative narrative. There was some discussion concerning the apparent autobiographical nature of the ‘novel’ but with no firm conclusions reached.
Our next choice is Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now.