From The Man Booker International Prize finalist Robert Seethaler comes a tender, heartbreaking story about one young man and his friendship with Sigmund Freud during the Nazi occupation of Vienna.
Seventeen-year-old Franz Huchel journeys to Vienna to apprentice at a tobacco shop. There he meets Sigmund Freud, a regular customer, and over time the two very different men form a singular friendship. When Franz falls desperately in love with the music hall dancer Anezka, he seeks advice from the renowned psychoanalyst, who admits that the female sex is as big a mystery to him as it is to Franz.
As political and social conditions in Austria dramatically worsen with the Nazis' arrival in Vienna, Franz, Freud, and Anezka are swept into the maelstrom of events. Each has a big decision to make: to stay or to flee?
From the bestselling author of A Whole Life, a moving account of an ordinary boy living through extraordinary times, and the lengths we will go to in order to protect what we love.
Set at a time of lengthening shadows, this is a novel about the sparks that illuminate the dark: of wisdom, compassion, defiance and courage. It is wry, piercing and also, fittingly, radiant. Daily Mail Seethaler blends tragedy and whimsy to create a bittersweet picture of youthful ideals getting clobbered by external forces. The result is a little like Great Expectations, only with dachshunds and strudel. Observer Essential reading for the early years of the 21st century. Scotland on Sunday [The Tobacconist's] portrayal of pre-war Vienna is tender and elegiac. There are echoes of Arthur Schnitzler in Fran'z feverish obsession with Anezka, Odon von Horvath in minor characters such as the neighbouring butcher who denounces the tobacconist to the Gestapo, and Robert Musil in the texture of the city. The moment when the frail, ill Dr Freud boards the train for London is an elegy for the cultural and intellectual glory of early twentieth-century Vienna ... The Tobacconist remains unwavering in its quiet, understated style and it is all the more devastating for it. Times Literary Supplement Told with a dry wit that enhances, rather than disguises, the sadness of its story, The Tobacconist is a touching miniature of an ordinary life irrevocably altered by the larger forces of history. Sunday Times
Robert Seethaler was born in Vienna and divides his time between his home town and Berlin. He is the author of five novels, of which The Tobacconist is the fourth. He also works as an actor, most recently in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth. Praise for A Whole Life: 'A lovely contemplation of a life in solitude in a remote valley, into which the modern world slowly intrudes.' Ian McEwan 'As haunting and as spare as Stoner ... A profound, wise and humane novel that no reader will forget.' Eileen Battersby, Irish Times 'At once heart-rending and heart-warming. A Whole Life, for all its gentleness, is a very powerful book.' Jim Crace