The Reader

By  Bernhard Schlink

About the Book 

For 15-year-old Michael Berg, a chance meeting with an older woman leads to far more than he ever imagined. Before long the pair embark on a passionate, clandestine love affair which leaves Michael both euphoric and confused. For Hanna is not all she seems. Years later, as a law student observing a trial in Germany, Michael is shocked to realise that the person in the dock is Hanna. The woman he had loved is a criminal. Much about her behaviour during the trial does not make sense. But then suddenly, and terribly, it does – Hanna is not only obliged to answer for a horrible crime, she is also desperately concealing an even deeper secret. 

What Bernhard Schlink thinks about World Book Night

"World Book Night – what a wonderfully democratic celebration of reading! I am honored and delighted to be part of it."

What we thinkBernhard Schlink - photo

“At its most simple The Reader is about the war, a loss of innocence, atonement, with the power of reading and the written word – and the stinging shame and damage of illiteracy  – running through it. But it’s about so much more than that and above all about how far we’ll go to hide the things we’re most ashamed to admit. A modern masterpiece that simply has to be read by everyone.”

Length: 216 pages

More by Bernhard Schlink

Summer Lies
Flights of Love

Author biography

Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany in 1944. A professor of law at Humboldt University, Berlin, and Cardozo Law School, New York, he is the author of the major international bestselling novel and film THE READER, short-story collection FLIGHTS OF LOVE and several prize-winning crime novels. He lives in Berlin and New York.

On World Book Night

Lev, the protagonist of THE ROAD HOME, (my novel chosen to join the list of World Book Night titles), has read very few books in his arduous life as a sawmill worker in eastern Europe. When he comes to England, he’s given a copy of Hamlet by his friend Lydia, whose pedagogical instincts dictate that she work to ‘improve’ his mind. Hamlet is of course way too difficult for a man who has difficulty distinguishing ‘to be or not to be’ from ‘B & B’, but he struggles on with it and eventually finds some affinity with the anguished prince of Denmark. The reading plays a part in opening up and transforming Lev’s life. And this we know from voices around the world: books can transform lives. So let’s hope World Book Night will act as a kind of benign Ponzi scheme for the mighty word.

Rose Tremain

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