Gretel and the Great War

Gretel and the Great War

One of Lit Hub's most anticipated books of 2024 One of Bloomberg's nine best books of the summer

"Intricate, unexpected, and delightful . . . An ingeniously woven novel." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Adam Ehrlich Sachs makes books that make their own traditions. This is the highest praise I know, for serious." --Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Netanyahus

"Gretel and the Great War is the gift that keeps on giving. Adam Ehrlich Sachs continues to prove he is one of our most daring and original writers." --Camille Bordas, author of How to Behave in a Crowd

A lean, seductive, and dazzlingly inventive novel that shows us the dark side of early twentieth-century Vienna.

Vienna, 1919. A once-mighty empire has finally come crashing down--and a mysterious young woman, unable to speak, has turned up on the streets. A doctor appeals to the public for information about her past and receives a single response, from a sanatorium patient who claims to be her father. The man reveals only her name: Gretel. But he encloses a bedtime story he asks the doctor to read aloud to her, about an Architect whose radically modern creation has caused a great scandal. The next day a second story arrives, about a Ballet Master who develops a new position of the feet. Twenty-four more stories follow in alphabetical order, about an Immunologist and a Jeweler, a Revolutionary and a Satirist, a Waif and an X-ray Technician and a Zionist. Crossing paths and purposes, their stories interweave until a single picture emerges, that of a decadent, death-obsessed, oversexed empire buzzing with the ideas of Freud and Karl Kraus. There are artists who ape the innocence of children, and scientists who insist that children are anything but innocent . . . And then there's Gretel's own mother, who will do whatever it takes to sing onstage at the City Theater. Is it any wonder that this world--soon to vanish anyway in a war to end all wars--was one from which Gretel's father wished to shelter her?

Publication Date: 
June 11, 2024