Book Review: “Transit”

UC Berkeley undergraduate Victoria Brinkerhoff reviewed Anna Seghers’ novel Transit:

Transit describes the encounters and emotional turmoil of an anonymous twenty-seven-year-old German refugee in the early 1940s. The novel is written from the refugee’s perspective; in his narration, he documents his new experiences in the unoccupied city of Marseille, France after he flees from Paris in search of a life away from the oppressive German regime. While in Marseille, the narrator becomes increasingly aware of the importance of refugees’ wait for transit papers during a time in which Germany’s occupation was greatly feared, and migration processes proved complicated and bureaucratic, yet the only way to escape Germany’s rule. A victim of Nazi persecution and forced migration herself, Seghers completed the novel in Mexico in 1942, and it was published in Germany in 1951. The novel was recently translated into English in 2014. Situated within a context of rich, rapidly changing history and politics, Transit reflects two key debates surrounding multiculturalism in Germany through its use of language: the conflicts of individual migrant identity and the concept of group membership. [Read full review here.]

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