Synopses & Reviews
Germans flee the besieged city of Danzig in 1945. Poles driven out of eastern regions controlled by the Russians move into the homes hastily abandoned by their previous inhabitants. In an area of the city graced with beech trees and a stately cathedral, the stories of old and new residents intertwine: Hanemann, a German and a former professor of anatomy, who chooses to stay in Danzig after the mysterious death of his lover; the Polish family of the narrator, driven out of Warsaw; and a young Carpathian woman who no longer has a country, her cheerful nature concealing deep wounds.
Through his brilliantly defined characters, stunning evocation of place, and memorable descriptions of a world that was German but survives in Polish households, Chwin has created a reality that is beyond destruction.
"There's a mystery of sorts at the center of this probing, hermetic look at wartime Danzig the Polish port known after WWII as Gdansk but it's barely mysterious enough to give the novel, the author's first to appear in the U.S., any real momentum. Set in 1945 as the Russians are invading, the Germans who occupied the city are fleeing and the Poles are seeking refuge, the story focuses on a German anatomy professor named Hanemann who's been asked to investigate a suspicious death which turns out to be that of his lover, Louisa Berger. Chwin weaves a tapestry of story lines, but the main character in the novel is Danzig itself, a poetic evocation of a classic Mitteleuropean city under the most dramatic circumstances. Though the parts don't quite add up to a whole, there are many memorable scenes: a catalogue of household possessions awaiting looting and destruction; the palpable fear of refugees aboard a ship bound for Hamburg; a retelling of the suicide of the German romantic poet Kleist. Chwin is a highly regarded writer and critic in Europe, and this polished if rather static novel is a valuable introduction to his work. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
A literary critic, essayist, novelist, and illustrator, Stefan Chwin is one of the most acclaimed writers in Europe today. Death in Danzig is his first novel to be translated into English. He lives and teaches in Gdansk, Poland.