Charlotte

Written by David Foenkinos | Translated by Sam Taylor | Overlook | May 31, 2016

Two artists, two obsessions. Charlotte Salomon—born in pre-World War II Berlin to a Jewish family traumatized by suicide—was obsessed with art and with living. She attended school in Germany until it was too dangerous to remain, fled to France, and was interned in a bleak work camp from which she narrowly escaped. Newly free, she spent two years in almost total solitude, creating a series of autobiographical pictures—images, words, even musical scores—which together tell her life story. The result is a unique, relentlessly complete artistic expression. In 1943, a pregnant Charlotte was taken to Auschwitz and gassed, but not before she entrusted her life's work to a friend, who kept it safe until peacetime. Entitled Life? Or Theatre?, it was exhibited in fragments in the 1960s; a 1998 exhibition of the complete work in the London Royal Academy became a sensation and eventually published in book form.

David Foenkinos, himself obsessed with Charlotte, has written his own utterly original tribute to her tragic life and transcendent art. His novel is the result of a long-cherished desire to pay tribute to this young artist. Written with passion, life, humor, and intelligent observation, Charlotte is a triumph of creative expression, a monument to genius stilled too soon, and an ode to the will to survive.

David Foenkinos is a screenwriter and the author of thirteen novels, including La DélicatesseLes Souvenirs, and Je Vais Mieux. In 2011, with his brother, he adapted his book La Délicatesse for a film starring Audrey Tautou and François Damiens.

Sam Taylor is a journalist, novelist, and the acclaimed translator of Laurent Binet's HHhH and the New York Times bestseller The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair.

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
Sign in or register to post comments.

More new titles

new titles

The Enigma of the Return

Leaving behind the freezing winter of Montreal – something he has never got used to – for the wet heat of Haiti, Windsor is faced with the grim truth of life in his homeland – the endemic poverty and starvation, the thwarted ambitions and broken dreams. But only here can he become a writer again…
new titles

The Flirt Formula

The poems go two by two across facing pages, where they press against each other, connect, and go forth in a tremulous manifesto. The result is a syntactical vertigo poised above nothingness. The halves meet only in an instant, suggesting that the crux of poetry is the art of not quite touching.
new titles

Cockroaches

In a tale that recounts her own experience fleeing the ethnic violence of Rwanda, Scholastique Mukasonga resurrects in heartbreaking detail the lives of her many family members who were killed. In her reflections, she captures not only the suffering brought about by her family’s displacement, but also the beauty present in small, quiet moments with her loved ones.