Göran Rosenberg translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death

A Brief Stop On the Road From Auschwitz


Publication Date: Feb 28, 2017

336 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $15.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-840-3

Hardcover

List Price US $24.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 9781590516072

Ebook

List Price US $24.95
ISBN: 9781590516089


Finalist for the 2015 National Jewish Book Award

This shattering memoir by a journalist about his father’s attempt to survive the aftermath of Auschwitz in a small industrial town in Sweden won the prestigious August Prize

On August 2, 1947 a young man gets off a train in a small Swedish town to begin his life anew. Having endured the ghetto of Lodz, the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the slave camps and transports during the final months of Nazi Germany, his final challenge is to survive the survival.

In this intelligent and deeply moving book, Göran Rosenberg returns to his own childhood to tell the story of his father: walking at his side, holding his hand, trying to get close to him. It is also the story of the chasm between the world of the child, permeated by the optimism, progress, and collective oblivion of postwar Sweden, and the world of the father, darkened by the long shadows of the past.



Excerpt from A Brief Stop On the Road From Auschwitz

We move to the house I actually remember a year or two later.  The documents say one thing and the aging memory another, but it doesn’t matter; this is where it all begins, in the building below the railroad station where the young man who would be my father alighted from the train on an early August evening in 1947, and which you can see right beneath the window on the left-hand side of the coach if you arrive by train from the north, across the Bridge. 
            
This is it; this is the Place.  This is where my world assumes its first colors, lights, smells, sounds, voices, gestures, names, and words.  I’m not sure how far back a human being can remember; some people say they have memories going back to their second year, but my first memories are of snow and cold and therefore probably date from somewhat later, since I was born in October.  But one thing I’m certain of is that even before the point where my memories of that first world of mine begin, it had already set its stamp on so much that even things I can no longer remember aren’t forgotten either.  This is the Place that will continue to form me even when I’m convinced that I’ve formed myself.

That’s the difference between them and me. This world they’ve encountered for the first time is an entirely different place, and they carry an entirely different world around with them, and for them so much has already started and already ended, and it’s still unclear whether anything can start afresh here, since a great deal of what they can’t remember, or don’t want to remember, they cannot forget. For them, the colors and the shifting light and the smells and sounds and voices of this place will often remind them of something else, though they might not always know what it is. For them to be able somehow to make this place their own, they’ll have to get to know it well enough, and let it stamp them deeply enough, so that sometimes it will be this place they’re reminded of when they hear a freight train rattle past at night, or inhale the smell of fried herring in the stairwell, or walk under tall pines, or catch a whiff of tar and sea, or see rowanberries glowing in the fall, or look at their children.


“Beautifully wrought…One of the great merits of Rosenberg’s book is the way he contrives to relive his father’s life forwards, not prejudging events through the prism of the outcome, but imbuing each stage of what he calls ‘the project’—that is, his parents’ aim of reconstructing a normal life in Sweden—with a kind of tender hope…Written with tender precision, A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz is the most powerful account I have read of the other death—the death [that comes] after the camps.” —The International New York Times

“[Rosenberg’s] father, David, was born in Lodz in Poland and made the rare journey not just to Auschwitz but from it in the final, desperate year of World War II. It is this last experience that is at the heart of A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz, the result of years of painstaking digging.  It is an affecting book, a son’s letter to his father asking for knowledge—lyrically rendered…It is impossible to read this enormously touching work without contemplating the present day.” —The Wall Street Journal

“This exquisitely wrought book is, among other things, a meditation on the workings of memory and history in one man’s life.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“A searing survivor’s tale told by a son. …A deeply felt story and a sobering reminder of the long shadows of the Holocaust.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Brilliantly sorrowful.” —Booklist

“[Göran] Rosenberg wields deep research and literary empathy in writing about the horrors his parents had lived through before he was born.” —The Boston Globe

“Wonderful, incisive…A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz—part history, part memoir, part essay on the meaning of survival—insists that the Holocaust didn’t end in 1945. The book challenges the powerful redemptive narrative offered by even official histories.” —Words Without Borders

“[A] chiaroscuro composed of more shade than light but one that manages to be all the more revealing because of it. Rosenberg floors us with a shock conclusion and provides us with a wealth of insight on the way to it.” —The Daily Beast

“Destined to become a classic…Göran Rosenberg has written a calm yet passionate account of events after Auschwitz, a memoir that should be read by anyone who ponders the infinite questions of good and evil…With A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz, Rosenberg has not only given us a necessary book but, by confronting unspeakable sorrow with courage and reason, he has created a masterpiece marked by great intelligence and equally great emotional intensity.” —Arts Fuse

“The author captivatingly retraces his father’s road to Södertälje, starting with deportation to Auschwitz…A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz…is an unusual work…heart-rending.” —Washington Jewish Week

“[A]t once remarkable testimony and remarkable literature…Brimming with duty-bound love but inescapably tragic at its core, A Brief Stop on the Road From Auschwitz is a tour de force fully on par with Primo Levi’s “If This Is a Man” and other literary classics of the Holocaust.” Associated Press

“A profoundly moving act of remembering…a searing investigation of complicity, guilt, and shame.” —The Sunday Times

“[A] towering and wondrous work about memory and experience, exquisitely crafted, beautifully written, humane, generous, devastating, yet somehow also hopeful.” —Financial Times

“In conjuring up the indescribable and the unimaginable, Rosenberg’s story is utterly unforgettable, breathing life into the painful experiences of a couple who…were intent on making a success of survival after the world had turned its back on them. It is a chilling reminder of how  the consequences of war long outlived the ceasefire, leaving indelible marks on family life in the decades that followed.” —The Independent

“In this memoir, author and journalist Göran Rosenberg walks with his father David through the darkness and light of their lives in postwar Sweden…The quiet, reflective, elegiac quality of Rosenberg’s retrieval of memory, of the meaning of what it is to be a survivor, of his father’s last days when the shadows of the past catch up with him and kill him, gives grace to the pained, weary traveler on his long journey.” —The Times (UK)

“This brilliant, touching and heart-wrenching story has rightly been compared to the work of Primo Levi in its treatment of the never-ending suffering of so many Holocaust survivors.” —The Jewish Chronicle

“Moving and unflinchingly honest…[Rosenberg’s] story will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.” —The Irish Examiner

“Artfully constructed…poignant, but not sentimental…[m]ore than mere reportage, this book is also a venture into the darkest places of the human spirit.” —The Tablet (UK)

“Compelling and poetic.” —The Huffington Post

“Rosenberg’s heart-rending account of his (yet-to-become) parents’ forced journey from their home in Lodz squarely faces the reader with the tragic question whether a common young man’s life—though miraculously delivered from the horrors of the Holocaust but finding itself dispossessed of everything ‘home’ means—can still overcome the scars of the past and retain the sanity and means for a life worth living. Not often can a prosaic prose embed such piteous sorrow, and human tragedy be so starkly revealed.” —Sari Nusseibeh, author of Once Upon A Country, A Palestinian Life

“Subtle, chilling, and utterly absorbing, Goran Rosenberg’s memoir is also an excavation of a grueling post-war, too often hidden from history.  With a novelist’s instinct, Rosenberg travels amongst truths that want to be forgotten—in Poland, in Germany and in Sweden. This is a masterly and moving book that brings the great Sebald to mind.” —Lisa Appignanesi, author of Losing the Dead

“‘Every road from Auschwitz is an individual miracle unto itself,’ writes Goran Rosenberg, and in this gripping and poetic memoir he imagines his way into the dark miracle of his own father’s experiences during and after the Holocaust. Born in peaceful Sweden, Rosenberg tries to make sense of the history that allowed him to grow up there, years after his father had suffered through the horrors of the Lodz ghetto and the concentration camps. From its lyrical opening pages to its shocking conclusion, A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz is an unforgettable book about memory, grief, and fate.” —Adam Kirsch, Senior Editor at The New Republic and columnist for Tablet

“Rosenberg’s book left me stricken with sorrow—and overwhelmed with grateful wonder. I know of no book that tells the story so forcefully of how, for those who survived Auschwitz, even this experience had to be treated as a single episode in the course of a full life, regardless of the camp’s malignant persistence at the heart of identity. With its hypnotic, propulsive sentences—its ruthless disavowal of sentiment, and its inspiring filial compassion—A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz manages to make the concentration camp story feel absolutely new again—vivid, shocking, and an urgent call upon our powers of empathy for the world today.” —George Prochnik, author of The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World

“More than ‘just’ the survival story of his father—it is great literature. At times his book is pervaded by an evil sadness, a biting wit that reveals the injustices that have befallen his father, firmly biting away until he has deconstructed them and bares all their repulsiveness.” —Frankfurter Allgemeine

“Rosenberg: a new Primo Levi.” —Volkskrant (The Netherlands)

“Passionate, tragic, exemplary and necessary.” —Livres Hebdo (France)

“A merciless but loving masterpiece.” —De Standaard (Belgium)

“Great literature.” —FAZ (Germany)

“Brilliant, unsentimental and suggestive. I was very moved by this darkly shimmering tale… A wise, melancholic, beautiful and deeply personal book.” —Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

“A masterful childhood memoir… [Rosenberg] writes with the power of a novelist, although this story is real.” —Aftonbladet (Sweden)

“A masterpiece.” —Politiken (Denmark)

“Göran Rosenberg is able to express the devastation that the concentration camp experience had on his father and subsequently on his family in a way that is deeply moving. To say that this recounting is sorrowful, passionate, humiliating, and full of tragedy still feels like an understatement. And yet, the son writes with optimism.” —Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette (Fairhope, AL)

“Göran Rosenberg’s memoir is a testament to the relationship between fathers and sons and to the enduring presence of the past. Setting out to explore his own childhood, Rosenberg discovers that his story cannot be told without first telling his father’s—a man whose life inhabits two worlds, the before and after, born from the dark events of twentieth-century Europe. Rosenberg’s writing is stunning and unsparing; while he addresses his father directly—the book is deftly written in the second person—A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz addresses us all, making this truly an unforgettable and important book that should be read widely.” —Erin Kaempf, Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, WA)