Latest Review: "Last Days" by Laurent Seksik

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a by Peter Biello on Laurent Seksik’s The Last Days translated by Andre Naffis-Sahely and published by Pushkin Press.

Peter is a producer and announcer at Vermont Public Radio, and is the organizer of the Burlington Writers Workshop. He’s also going to be helping us flesh out the Three Percent interview circuit in the near future.

Here’s the beginning of his review:

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then his fans have wondered what life must have been like for him in his last few months.

Absent the mystery of what happens, what remains is why. These days it might be difficult for us to imagine why he’d want to kill himself. He was a successful writer and met devoted followers everywhere he went. He had successfully escaped Europe before Hitler’s army could capture him (though many of his friends and family members weren’t so lucky). By 1942, he was waiting out the war in warm, sunny Brazil, where alcohol-fueled celebrations in the street seemed routine. His wife, Lotte, was a picture of youth and devotion. Why commit suicide when life seemed so full of opportunities for happiness. The Last Days is Seksik’s attempt to answer that question.

The book opens in September 1941, when Zweig and Lotte move into a little house in Petrópolis, Brazil, having lived in New York and London. Once again Zweig finds himself struggling to adjust to a new place. Meanwhile, his home country is torn to pieces by the Nazis. Zweig finds it difficult to focus on new writing projects. News of the war’s advance becomes more horrific, and at one point, he realizes that “news of barbarism’s sweeping victories no longer affected him like it used to . . . Had he grown jaded?”

For the rest of the review, go here.


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