Berlin author Edgar Hilsenrath just turned 80
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Berlin author Edgar Hilsenrath just turned 80

Satirizing the Holocaust has long been a taboo theme in Germany. After all, how can the Nazi extermination of six million Jews be anything but tragic and unspeakable?

Germany is the land of his birth, but it has been a struggle to achieve recognition in his home country. Edgar Hilsenrath, 80, a Holocaust survivor whose novels have sold in the millions in the United States and Western Europe, makes German publishers feel uneasy. They say his works are “too gruesome, too satirical and too vulgar”.

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Nonetheless, Hilsenrath, author of The Nazi Who Lived as a Jew, the break-out novel which catapulted him to prominence in the 1970s, was forced to flee the Nazis in 1938, but returned to Germany in 1975 and has lived in Berlin ever since.