This intriguing novel follows the German novelist Thomas Mann during three days in 1936. Away from home in Switzerland and fearing arrest on his return to Germany, Mann is confronted with the decision of whether or not to go home. He decides to write an open letter to the Nazi regime to be published in a Swiss newspaper, but is tortured by doubt: his publisher in Germany, a Jew, will be furious with the unwelcome attention drawn to his publishing house; by choosing exile isn’t he abandoning his loyal readers in Germany? Will the Nazis burn his books? Will they confiscate his diaries full of his intimate, homo-erotic confessions?
Böhler shows Mann as a human soul, trapped in an historical setting that forces him to make a seemingly impossible choice. These three days were only sparsely covered in Mann’s diaries and The Decision fills this gap in the most compelling and convincing way.
BRITTA BÖHLER is a Dutch lawyer of German descent. She has represented Volkert van der Graaf, the assassin of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and many others. A member of the Dutch senate until 2011, she now teaches at Amsterdam University. Visit Britta’s website, here.
Follow Britta on Twitter @Britta_Boehler
JEANNETTE K. RINGOLD has been a literary translator for about 25 years. Her published translations include works of fiction by Anna Enquist (among them Counterpoint, The Injury, The Secret and The Masterpiece), Leon de Winter’s God’s Gym, Carl Friedman’s The Gray Lover and The Shovel and the Loom, and Marga Minco’s The Fall. Her translations of literary nonfiction include Undeliverable by Isaac Lipschits, A Floating City of Peasants by Floris-Jan van Luyn, A People Who Live Apart by Els van Diggele, and Saving the Children by Bert-Jan Flim.