When Jakov Lind died in 2007, The Guardian hailed him as a writer who was a consummate survivor, an odd, sort-of Jew who had lived through the peak of Nazi power “inside the lion’s mouth” where he did not “have to feel the animal’s teeth and claws.” The author wrote some decidedly odd books, books that his publisher once said “never made a profit,” though “it was an honor to publish him,” and when he died he left behind a brilliant body of work that was largely out of print. Thanks to the efforts of an enthusiastic few, this work, translated by the legendary Ralph Manheim, is now experiencing a resurrection. Lind is not only a major post-Holocaust writer; he is also a modernist of extraordinary talent and vision. His writing shows an intriguing, Beckettian dissolution of reason, and it owes a clear debt to the absurdists, whose themes of obsession and the perversion of reality closely resemble Lind’s work. Born in Vienna a decade before the Anschluss, Lind also owes something also to the Austro-Jewish literary tradition exemplified by Stefan Zweig—there’s a humanist regard that colors his work and tinges his cynicism with a smirking regret. This sort of weeping giddiness characterizes all of Lind’s writing, from his excellent dramatic efforts like The Silver Foxes Are Dead to his short stories and his extraordinary dark novels.
more from Jeff Waxman at The Quarterly Conversation here.