Death in Danzig - Stefan Chwin
It is 1945. The Germans have lost the war. Danzig becomes Polish Gdansk in a Russian dominated communist state. Germans flee the city. Poles seek refuge in it. A German doctor called Hanemann remains behind. He is asked to investigate a suspicious death.
Death in Danzig
Published in 2004
Available from Amazon (UK), Amazon (US) and Abe Books (2nd Hand).
Michael Hofmann, The Guardian (London) 5 March 2005, wrote in What life after linden-blossom tea?
It reminds me a little of Rushdie and Grass (himself a native of Danzig, after all), and perhaps a little more of Sebald, in the way it deploys a damaged individual at a crux of history. Hanemann is a coroner, who, as the book begins, in 1945, conducts autopsies for a living. Suffering a personal loss, he becomes depressed and indifferent, gives up his profession, and, unlike the rest of the German population of Danzig, doesn't flee as the Russians close in...there is a peculiar feeling of grief struck tenderness for the bourgeois period in much Polish writing; perhaps the period before 1939 really was a bourgeois apotheosis; at any rate, such a feeling characterises both Chwin and Zagajewski, and goes back to 1930s writers such as Bruno Schulz.... I know as a translator that one waits, often for many years, for a writer to come along who writes as beautifully as one longs to write oneself. Death in Danzig is a beautiful book, and nothing about it is more sumptuously and expressively beautiful than Philip Boehm's translation.
This page was added on 31 May 2008.