Translator Peter Filkins talks about the third novel in German Jewish writer H.G. Adler’s trilogy about the Holocaust, The Wall. Later, we re-play a previous interview with Filkins about his translation of the first novel in the trilogy, The Journey.
German Jewish writer H.G. Adler survived the Nazi concentration camps, but lost his first wife and other members of his family in the Holocaust.
Adler moved to London after World War II and began writing fiction, poetry, philosophy, and history—most of it centered around his experience of the Holocaust. His book about day-to-day life in Theresienstadt was one of the first such survivor accounts to emerge from the war.
Adler also wrote a trilogy of novels exploring both that experience and what it was like to be a Holocaust survivor: Panorama, The Journey, and now, recently published in English, The Wall. He has been compared to such writers as Kafka, Joyce and Robert Musil.
Peter Filkins’ masterful translation of The Wall exposes the reader to the profound questions faced by survivors of such extreme trauma: how to go on living when so many others have died? How to communicate that trauma to others who have not experienced it? And can one use art to convey the experience of being the victim of ultimate evil?
Peter Filkins is a poet and a translator of German literature. He was the first to translate H.G. Adler’s novels into English. His translation of The Wall was named one of the best books of the year by publishers weekly. He teaches literature and writing at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts.