Europe Central

Paperback | November 14, 2005

byWilliam T Vollmann

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A daring literary masterpiece and winner of the National Book Award. 

In this magnificent work of fiction, acclaimed author William T. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye on the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the twentieth century to render a mesmerizing perspective on human experience during wartime. Through interwoven narratives that paint a composite portrait of these two battling leviathans and the monstrous age they defined, Europe Central captures a chorus of voices both real and fictional— a young German who joins the SS to fight its crimes, two generals who collaborate with the enemy for different reasons, the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the Stalinist assaults upon his work and life.

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From the Publisher

A daring literary masterpiece and winner of the National Book Award.  In this magnificent work of fiction, acclaimed author William T. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye on the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the twentieth century to render a mesmerizing perspective on human experience during wartime. Through interwoven...

William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. Vollman's writing has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Esquire, Conjunctions, Granta, and many other magazi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:832 pages, 8.4 × 5.5 × 1.7 inPublished:November 14, 2005Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143036599

ISBN - 13:9780143036593

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Customer Reviews of Europe Central

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A history of violence Brilliant, sprawling account of the conflict between Russia and Germany during ww2. More like a book of short stories with recurrent themes, these are fictional accounts of historic figures like generals and artists (kollwitz, shostakovich) as well as unkown soldiers. The stories dramatise acts of fanaticism and resistance on both sides of the conflict. Some of the dialogue is a little wooden at times, and the books drags on occasion, but otherwise worth taking the time.
Date published: 2013-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent historical fiction Vollmann's novel retells the events of World War Two through various fictionalised accounts of Russian and German figures, from famous artists, to villified revolutinaries, to celebrated military personnel. Some characters are given one chapter to tell their memorable stories; others, such as Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, become the central focus of the narrative as we follow them from pre-war innocence to bitter disillusionment. Vollmann is a fantastic writer: relentless in describing the horrors of the war; insightful and exacting in bringing these historical figures back to life. He wants to show you the terrible choices people had to make in those times, and the ways in which they tried to maintain their moral and artistic integrity in the face of such brutal regimes as Nazism and Russian Communism. The stories are incredibly moving, and even more so because we know the events they describe are based in truth. I found it fascinating that a contemporary American writer would chose to write exclusively about the German and Russian experience of war, with no voice at all from the Allied nations. Because he chose this, he forces his Western audience to think deeply about events that have been so neatly tied up in the history books. The characters are drawn on the edges of morality, where there is no right and wrong, only survival or death, and Vollmann digs deep into the issues of complicity and innocence that are often glossed over when discussing war. William Vollmann's previous fictional works have been criticized as being too long and extraordinarily complex for the commercial market. "Europe Central" is complex, but also readable and entertaining, and was awarded the 2005 National Book Award. Readers of serious fiction will welcome the publication of such an accessible novel from an often overlooked and very talented writer.
Date published: 2006-06-10

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Editorial Reviews

"His most welcoming work, possibly his best book . . . part novel and part stories, virtuoso historical remembrance and focused study of violence."- The New York Times Book Review  "A jarring, haunting, absurdly ambitious symphony of a book . . . It has an emotional force capable of ripping almost any reader from his moorings. . . . Vollmann has done as much as anyone in recent memory to return moral seriousness to American fiction." - Steve Kettmann, San Francisco Chronicle "Resembles War and Peace not merely in its scope, but in its perception of history as a determining force that individual lives merely illustrate . . . Aspires to the highest possible potential of literature."- Melvin Jules Bukiet, Los Angeles Times"A grimly magnificent dramatization of the impossible moral choices forced on individuals by these totalitarian regimes . . . if you have been following Vollmann's extraordinary career, Europe Central may be his best novel ever." - Steven Moore, The Washington Post"Profound . . . Vollmann asks us to put aside what we think we know of history and immerse ourselves in it once again." - John Freeman, The Boston Globe