W. G. Sebald was one of the most extraordinary and influential writers of the 20th century. Through books including The Emigrants, Austerlitz and The Rings of Saturn, he pursued an original literary vision that combined fiction, history, autobiography and photography and addressed some of the most profound themes of contemporary literature: the burden of the Holocaust, memory, loss and exile.
The first biography to explore his life and work, Speak, Silence pursues the true Sebald through the memories of those who knew him and through the work he left behind. This quest takes Carole Angier from Sebald’s birth as a second-generation German at the end of the Second World War, through his rejection of the poisoned inheritance of the Third Reich, to his emigration to England, exploring the choice of isolation and exile that drove his work. It digs deep into a creative mind on the edge, finding profound empathy and paradoxical coldness, saving humour and an elusive mix of fact and fiction in his life as well as work. The result is a unique, ferociously original portrait that pushes the boundaries of biography just as its subject pushed the boundaries of fiction.
Carole Angier is the author of Jean Rhys: Life & Work, which won the Writer’s Guild Award for Non-Fiction and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize, and The Double Bond: Primo Levi, A Biography, following the publication of which she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She taught academic and creative writing for many years and has edited several books of refugee writing. She lives in Oxfordshire.
Thad Ziolkowski is the Associate Director of the Leon Levy Center and the author of Our Son the Arson, a collection of poems, the memoir On a Wave, which was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award in 2003, and Wichita, a novel. His book The Drop, which explores the relationship between surfing and addiction, was published by HarperCollins in 2021. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Bookforum, Artforum,Travel & Leisure, Interview Magazine and Index. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and has a PhD in English Literature from Yale University.