For our book club meeting in October, we read The Pages by Hugo Hamilton. The narrator of this book is the novel, Rebellion, by Joseph Roth. This provided much discussion on the role of books and the idea that they may have a separate life of their own to bear witness was intriguing and original. The book provided much to digest in terms of identity, displacement and loss. However, some of the group felt there were too many characters who were unnecessary to the overall plot. Some felt the book Rebellion wasn’t always present in each chapter so questioned who was then the narrator? Despite the 3½ star rating by the book club, there is much to think about in this book.
Narrated in the voice of Joseph Roth’s masterpiece Rebellion, Hugo Hamilton’s stunning, formally inventive new novel tells the life story of that book, initially rescued from the Nazi book-burning in Berlin in May 1933.
It recounts the life of its Austrian-Jewish author, a writer on the run, and his intriguing wife Friederike who fell victim to mental illness. And it tells a multitude of other stories: of Adreas Pum, a barrel-organ player down on his luck; of a young German American woman who finds a small map drawn by hand on its own blank page in the back, a thrilling mystery which will lead her to Berlin, the book’s birthplace. The Pages carries profound echoes from the past into the present day and is an inspiring story of the survival of literature over a hundred years.