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The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945 (Recent Picador Highlights)by Wladyslaw Szpilman
Synopses & Reviews
Named one of the Best Books of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times, The Pianist is now a major motion picture directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody (Son of Sam). The Pianist won the Cannes Film Festivals most prestigious prize—the Palme dOr.
On September 23, 1939, Wladyslaw Szpilman played Chopins Nocturne in C-sharp minor live on the radio as shells exploded outside—so loudly that he couldnt hear his piano. It was the last live music broadcast from Warsaw: That day, a German bomb hit the station, and Polish Radio went off the air.
Though he lost his entire family, Szpilman survived in hiding. In the end, his life was saved by a German officer who heard him play the same Chopin Nocturne on a piano found among the rubble. Written immediately after the war and suppressed for decades, The Pianist is a stunning testament to human endurance and the redemptive power of fellow feeling.
"[J]oins the ranks of Holocaust memoirs notable as much for their literary value as for their historical significance....Employing language that has more in common with the understatement of Primo Levi than with the moral urgency of Elie Wiesel, Szpilman is a remarkably lucid observer and chronicler..." Publishers Weekly
"[Szpilman's] shock and ensuing numbness become ours, so that acts of ordinary kindness or humanity take on an aura of miracle." The Observer (U.K.)
"[Szpilman's] account is hair-raising beyond anything Hollywood could invent...an altogether unforgettable book." The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
"[R]emarkable not only for the heroism of its protagonists but for the author's lack of bitterness, even optimism, in recounting the events. Written and published in a short run in Poland soon after the war, this first translation maintains a freshness of experience lacking in many later, more ruminative Holocaust memoirs." Library Journal
"Stunning." The Wall Street Journal
"Historically indispensable." The Washington Post Book World
"The Pianist is a great book." The Boston Globe
"He tells his remarkable epic with great clarity and sensitivity." Dade Jewish Journal
"[A]n unusual book that gives the reader the memories of a victim still in shock, unconcerned with enhancing his story for easy reading....The Pianist is not an easy book to read, due to its lack of literary finesse, but it contains much valuable information to add to a student's understanding of the Holocaust." KLIATT
"Rarely has the sheer claustrophobia of living in the Warsaw Ghetto been so vividly conveyed as it is by Szpilman." The Independent (U.K.)
A well-balanced mix of Nonfiction, General Fiction, Romance and Mystery in the lightweight softcover format preferred by many readers. Selections are a blend of international authors, chosen for the broadest appeal. There are also some carefully selected backlist titles by proven favorite authors.
On September 23, 1939, a young Warsaw pianist played Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp minor live on the radio. Later that day, a German bomb destroyed the station and Polish radio went off the air. The horrors of occupation would kill most of Wladyslaw Szpilman's friends and all of his family. But, incredibly, his life was saved by a Wehrmacht officer who heard him play the same nocturne among the rubble. This gripping memoir includes excerpts from the diary of Wilm Hosenfeld, the Wehrmacht officer who had the courage to stand against evil.
About the Author
Wladyslaw Szpilman was born in 1911. He studied the piano at the Warsaw Conservatory and at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. From 1945 to 1963, he was Director of Music at Polish Radio, and he also pursued a career as a concert pianist and composer for many years. He lives in Warsaw.
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