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Distributed for Seagull Books

My Father, the Germans and I

Essays, Lectures, Interviews

Jürek Becker (1937–97) is best known for his novel Jacob the Liar, which follows the life of a man, who, like Becker, lived in the Lódz ghetto during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. Throughout his career, Becker also wrote nonfiction, and the essays, lectures, and interviews collected in My Father, the Germans and I share a common thread in that they each speak to Becker’s interactions with and opinions on the social, political, and cultural conditions of twentieth-century Germany.

Becker, who had lived in both German states and in unified Germany, was passionately and humorously active in the political debates of his time. Becker never directly aligned himself with either the political ideology of East Germany or the capitalist market forces of West Germany. The remains of fascism in postwar Germany, and the demise of Socialism, as well as racism and xenophobic violence, were topics that perpetually interested Becker. However, his writings, as evidenced in this collection, were never pedantic, but always entertaining, retaining the sense of humor that made his novels so admired.

My Father, the Germans and I gives expression to an exceptional author’s perception of himself and the world and to his tireless attempt to bring his own unique tone of linguistic brevity, irony, and balance to German relations.


200 pages | 5 x 8 1/2 | © 2010

The Seagull Library of German Literature

Literature and Literary Criticism: Germanic Languages

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Table of Contents



My Way of Being a Jew

Writers East and West

Resistance in Jakob der Lügner

On the Decline of Culture in Our Times

On the Value of Civil Rights

This is Unreliable Information

Marianna D. Birnbaum, University of California, in conversation with Jurek Becker


Is Socialism Over and Done With?

The State of Europe

The Invisible City

It Tales Two to Spy:  On the Way We Deal With the GDR Past

On the Tools of Writers

On Germany

The Centipede

It Is Like a Thunderstorm

Herlinde Koelbl in conversation with Jurek Becker




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