It’s that time of year again when I, along with 20,000 other volunteers will be hitting the streets tonight to give away 400,000 book titles to random strangers in the bid to get more people reading fiction that they would not normally consider, or to get people who don’t normally get stuck into a novel.
This year I will be giving away Bernhard Shclink’s thought provoking novel, The Reader.
Glenn Stevens, ready for World Book Night
The story is told through the main protagonist, Michael Berg, who at age 15 and suffering from Hepatitis, is rescued from the embarrassment of throwing up in street and cleaned up by an older woman called Hanna Schmitz. Once recovered from his illness, Michael seeks out Hanna at her apartment to say thank you and so begins an intensely short, one sided love affair.
As an adult, Michael sees Hanna again while he is observing a Nazi trial in post-war Germany and is horrified to see that his ex-lover Hanna is at the centre of the trial. As the trial unfolds, Michael bears witness to another secret of Hanna’s which explains so much about her behaviour during their short affair. However he is torn between exposing her secret to save her from an extended sentence, but at what cost?
The Reader, pulls the reader through Michel and Hanna’s life, at times slowly, followed by lightning speed into middle/old age; where the true devastation unfolds. It is only when the book is closed, that the reader is left to questions the true burden of love, hate, betrayal redemption and forgiveness.