Wide Awake

Written by Robert Bober
Wide Awake
by Robert Bober
(The New Press, 2012)

Coming of age in 1960s Paris, Bernard Applebaum exists in the hazy shadow of the Holocaust and on the electric cusp of the French New Wave. We find the narrator of Wide Awake as he wanders the city streets in search of signs of his father, who was deported by the Nazis in 1942. Bernard’s chance encounter with a former acquaintance who has become filmmaker Francois Truffaut’s assistant leads to a spot as an extra on the set of Jules and Jim—setting into motion a series of discoveries and lost memories that crack open a hidden past.


On seeing Jules and Jim, Bernard’s mother is moved to divulge the secrets of her own past as a Jewish-Polish immigrant to France, which curiously mirrors that of the film’s heroine. When revelations about his mother’s two loves lead Bernard on a fateful journey through Paris, to Germany, and back to Poland and Auschwitz itself, he must plumb haunting depths in order to recover his own identity.

A beautiful and mysterious fictional memoir with echoes of W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz, this riveting new work by one of France’s celebrated directors and writers will be a major new contribution to the literature of memory, loss, and how we grapple with the legacy of the Holocaust.

An exhortation to savor the small momentary joys . . . to capture fleeting moments.

Le Monde des Livres

About the author:
Born in 1931 in Berlin, Robert Bober is a film and stage director and writer. He has directed over 120 films for television and is the author of five books, including Ellis Island (The New Press) with Georges Perec and Quoi de neuf sur la guerre?, for which he was awarded the Prix du Livre Inter. Bober lives in Paris. Carol Volk has translated over three dozen titles from the French. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker and other literary publications. She has spent the last decade in the U.S. Foreign Service, and currently lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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