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Freud's Sister: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, August 28, 2012
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“A pleasure to read. There is great depth in this novel, and its poetic prose shines through even in this English translation.” —Associated Press
“Freud’s Sister is that rare artistic achievement that is more than the sum of its parts—informative but also wise, insightful and deeply moving. . . . Like Tolstoy, Smilevski chooses to use simple words, but to connect them eloquently so that they build to create powerful and complex images, ideas and feelings. . . . [A] heart-breaking book.” —The Jewish Daily Forward
“Startling and daring . . . A book that is ultimately less a Holocaust novel than a celebration of the subtlety and complexity of what comprises every human life . . . [Adolfina] is gifted with acute perception, deep insight and a grand eloquence, all of which is on rich display through this remarkable book.” —The Jewish Journal
“A beautiful, sensitive . . . literary investigation into what it must be like to live one’s life in the shadow of a genius.” —Maclean’s
“One of the most interesting literary events of the year . . . Important . . . easy to read, interesting and profound . . . [Smilevski] is an excellent writer.” —Dubravka Ugresic, Liberation (France)
“A deep, intelligent, boldly imaginative work, Freud’s Sister demonstrates how fiction can raise certain essential questions that history cannot or does not dare to raise.” —Alberto Manguel, El País (Spain)
“I’ve been deeply moved. . . . It’s very difficult to forget and is very likely to be as controversial as it is acclaimed.” —Joyce Carol Oates, Elle (Spain)
“Smilevski takes his place alongside Freud in the pantheon of philosophical writers whose mind and heart probe as one.” —The Daily Beast
“A brooding, sepulchral book [that] effectively contrasts the roots of [Adolfina Freud’s and Klara Klimt’s] suffering with Freud’s more notorious theories.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Hauntingly beautiful . . . Achingly elegant . . . This is a novel that deserves to belong to world literature.” —Judges’ citation, Modern Language Association’s Lois Roth Award (honorable mention)
“This gem of a book . . . is deeply moving. . . . A provocative discourse on sanity and perception . . . Unforgettable.” —Publishers Weekly
“Superb . . . Provocative and poignant . . . A sensitive portrayal and a well-crafted novel [that] offers keen insight into the Freud family dynamics.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Rich, varied, and complex . . . A novel of high intellect, enthusiastically recommended . . . The author brings Freud to life in his penetrating depiction of family relationships set against the backdrop of social and historical changes sweeping Europe at the time.” —Library Journal
“Memorable . . . Provocative . . . An unflinching gaze at love, death, sex, hatred, depression, and madness.” —Booklist
“A vivid, bracing work of fiction—one of those rare novels that does more than simply bring history to life. It gives life to facts, and shimmers with a kind of actual reality that seems truer than life itself.” —Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and The Passages of H.M.
“Beautifully moving, rich in ideas and emotion, and full of insights about family, madness, and the role of women in fin-de-siècle Europe. Smilevski writes like a shaman wrestling the truth from a demon, and the message he delivers is transformational, relentless, and heartbreaking.” —Dale Peck
“Ingenious, innovative, and insightful in narrating one against the other the intertwined biographies of Freud and his sister Adolfina, and of their contemporaries Gustav Klimt and his sister Klara, and in thereby illuminating the historical relationship between creation and unthinkable destruction, as well as between male and female destinies. A thought-provoking, vitally engaging reading experience for anyone who cares about the meaning of our world.” —Shoshana Felman, author of Writing and Madness, Testimony, and The Juridical Unconscious
“A brilliantly written portrait of a woman cursed by her family, her culture, her country, and of her attempts to transcend the burden of history.” —Louise Murphy, author of The True Story of Hansel and Gretel
“An excellent novel . . . I cannot remember any book bringing me as much pleasure as [this one].” —Vesna Mojsova-Cepisevska (Macedonia)
“Wise and moving.” —Knack (Belgium)
“Smilevski has a distinctive style [and] gives a beautiful glimpse into both inner life and the world of ideas.” —Boek (The Netherlands)
“Strong, multi-layered, obsessive [like] José Saramago.” —La Repubblica (Italy)
“Powerful . . . a discovery.” —RaiNews (Italy), No. 1 Book of the Year
More About the Author
"Like Tolstoy, Smilevski chooses to use simple words, but to connect them eloquently so that they build to create powerful and complex images, ideas and feelings." - Nicholas Meyer.
"A young heir to Gunter Grass and Jose Saramago, Smilevski might be the newest of a rare thing -- a living European novelist with a message for the future of his continent." - Joshua Cohen.
Goce Smilevski was born in Skopje, in 1975. For his novel SIGMUND FREUD'S SISTER he won EUROPEAN UNION PRIZE FOR LITERATURE.
Top Customer Reviews
The boy in her memories who strokes her with the apple, who whispers to her the fairy tale, who gives her the knife, is her brother Sigmund.
Vienna, 1938: With the Nazis closing in, Sigmund Freud is granted an exit visa and allowed to list the names of people to take with him. He lists his doctor and maids, his dog, and his wife's sister, but not any of his own sisters. The four Freud sisters are shuttled to the Terezín concentration camp, while their brother lives out his last days in London.
Based on a true story, this searing novel gives haunting voice to Freud's sister Adolfina--"the sweetest and best of my sisters"--a gifted, sensitive woman who was spurned by her mother and never married. A witness to her brother's genius and to the cultural and artistic splendor of Vienna in the early twentieth century, she aspired to a life few women of her time could attain.
From Adolfina's closeness with her brother in childhood, to her love for a fellow student, to her time with Gustav Klimt's sister in a Vienna psychiatric hospital, to her dream of one day living in Venice and having a family, Freud's Sister imagines with astonishing insight and deep feeling the life of a woman lost to the shadows of history.
Adolfina Freud was the youngest of Sigmund Freud's sisters. Sickly and shunned by an unloving mother who keeps telling her she should never have been born, Adolfina develops a strong bond with her eldest brother whom she adores. He shelters her and loves her as they grow into adulthood. Sigmund marries and becomes successful.Read more ›
But not about those whom we exclusively associate with those names, while ignoring that there must have been others.
It's about those with the names Adolfina Freud, Klara Klimt, Ottla Kafka, sisters of the famous smart guys. Also appearing briefly are Mia Krauss the grandmother of famous writer Karl, and Johanna Broch the mother of famous author Hermann. The women, except for Klara who has died by then, meet in a Nazi prison, consigned to die in gas chambers. And forgotten since.
Not so for the famous men: they if still living, like Sigmund, had more worldly regard and were provided with the means for escape, and a better afterlife.
This book is about what the world, with us smart guys following along, usually disregards, consigns to the margins, ignores, forgets, now as then.
Adolfina, the narrator, and her friend Klara, despite spirited attempts to engage the world on their own, came to recognize that they're not much wanted or respected. Deemed depressives, they volunteered to spend years in a madhouse. Among the authoritative sane, only the director of the madhouse, named Dr. Goethe, a relative of the famous one, tried to understand them respectfully, on their own terms, but his path seemed eccentric, antiquated, too romantic, a path not taken by the modern age which increasingly accorded empathy and imagination much less sanction than scientific detachment and rigor -- the smart, dry, perhaps delusional, rationality championed by Sigmund and so many others.Read more ›
The question that this story hangs on is this: When Sigmund Freud got visas to leave Vienna to the safety of England, why did he take, along with his wife and children, his wife's family, his doctor and his family, and the house servants, but not his four sisters? Did he not value them? He was dying of cancer; did the pain affect his thinking? Did his wife's family have something to do with it? The question goes unanswered. I personally thought the story was good, but I did not enjoy it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This story could have been done in 70 pages or less. The writing and scenes are very redundant.
There were many wasted pages.
this book is not light reading. but it is amazing. it is a book of thoughts and not her biography. expect heavy thoughts on lunacy and life in general. it will make you think.Published 10 months ago by V's Mom
Pretty awful, boring, disconnected, had to force myself to finish it. Don't waste your time.Published 11 months ago by Susan Ricci
This book is a provocative perspective on who Sigmund Freud may have been.Published 11 months ago by Jack M. LaValley
The significance of Freud's influence over his sister is there from the beginning, but Freud's Sister gets lost often in this story. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Myrna Guymer
It was interesting to read about Freud's family, their life and his attitude as well as reactions.
However, what bothered me most were the many repetitions of sentences and... Read more
I did not like the way the writer makes Freud's life into fiction. Dialogues are artficial and unconvincing. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Eliana Cardoso
This book shows an intense sympathy with Freud's sisters and their suffering in the last years of their lives. Read morePublished on September 3, 2013 by Shalom Freedman
I find this to be a very bleak and strongly fictionalized historical novel. Even the way Adolfina died was altered. Read morePublished on February 28, 2013 by war story enthusiast