Already published in Denmark and Sweden with great praise by the critics, rights to Volker Weidermann’s OSTENDE. 1936 – SUMMER OF FRIENDSHIP (Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2014. English title SUMMER BEFORE THE DARK) were just sold to Cappelen Damm in Norway.

Ostend, 1936: A beach, a gathering of writers and a summer, the likes of which we’ll never see again

A Belgian seaside resort with history and grandeur – this is where all those who no longer have a home in Nazi Germany come to reunite. Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, Irmgard Keun, Kisch and Toller, Koestler and Kesten, the banned poets. Volker Weidermann recounts their hopes, their love, their despair – and how they moved on with their lives.

  • bestseller title by own of Germany’s most renown literary critics and TV host Volker Weidermann
  • 170.000 copies sold in Germany alone
  • Rights sold to Bulgaria: Panorama / China: CITIC Press / Czech Republic: Host / Denmark: Turbine / France: Piranha / Great Britain: Pushkin Press / Greece: Agra / Italy: Neri Pozza / Netherlands: Uitgeverij Cossee / Portugal: under negotiation / Spain: Alianza / Sweden: Lind & Co. /Turkey: CAN / USA: Pantheon/ Knopf / Norway: Cappelen Damm

Quotes from English reviewers on the book:

“Like Wes Anderson’s Zubrowska in The Grand Budapest Hotel. . . . at once haunting and ornamental: an antique music-box of melancholic atmosphere. . . . A meditation on the act of creation, one that explores how we make refuges out of our own pasts.” —Tara Isabella Burton, The New Republic

“Resonant. . . . As Europe tumbles towards darkness, the writers in Ostend create a haven for love and literature—one they know is doomed—that Weidermann evokes with skill and delicacy.” — The Sunday Times (London)

“Zweig and Roth were zealous spokesmen for the war-hating wold conscience. The tragedy of both their lives, for so long jackbooted into historical oblivion, is highlighted by Weidermann’s gift for subtle pathos and the comic cameo. His translator, Carol Brown Janeway, retains this graceful dexterity. For such a slim book to convey with such poignancy the extinction of a generation of ‘Great Europeans’ is a triumph”. The Sunday Telegraph

“Yet “Ostend,” as a work of nonfiction, is not grim. If anything, it’s the opposite — light on its feet, a reverie in a way; when it’s over, you’ll half wonder if you’ve dreamed it…I enjoyed getting lost in the book’s melodies…” — Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

“Volker Weidermann has taken this odd and disputatious gathering, marooned on the edge of the Continent as their world turns hostile, and made from it a potent and melancholy book.” —  The Times

Summer Before the Dark intimately explores Zweig and Roth’s co-dependent friendship … Weidermann gives us a glimpse of what was, to many of these writers, a brief but rare home, soon to be destroyed during the second world war, along with many of their lives.” The Guardian

“Breezier and more brightly written than a study of two profound minds in torment on the eve of global disaster should reasonably be; an enthralling, juicy read.” — Big Issue

“A sign of how far [the revival of Zweig and Roth’s work] has succeeded . . . a work of popular history very much like those Stefan Zweig used to write.” — New Statesman

“Beautifully translated by Carol Brown Janeway . . . a short but vital calm-before-the-storm history, one that shines a valuable light on two of the 20th century’s finest writers . . . rich in insight and empathy. This is a sparkling gem.” — Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“This is a marvelous book about many things — politics, love, identity, belonging — but at its heart is the story of a great and troubled friendship between two great and troubled writers. . . . Summer Before the Dark is literary biography at its best. Faithful to facts, it reads like a novel. With its elegiac atmosphere, extreme personalities, tense political backdrop and tragic central relationships, it would make a terrific film — Death in Venice with more sex, more booze, more action and considerably more conversation.” — Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

“Volker Weidermann magically evokes the mood of these artistic refugees as the sun set on the civilized order of Europe. . . . “Ostend,” which has been marvelously translated by Carol Brown Janeway, abounds in poetry and deadpan understatement. . . .The dissonance between the writers’ languid summer and the utter ruthlessness of what awaits gives “Ostend” a dream-like quality. The book is as transporting as fiction—I had to remind myself that it wasn’t as I read. Partly this is due to the level of detail. Mr. Weidermann knows which café each writer favored, what they drank, which manuscripts they read aloud. It could be Hemingway.” — Roger Lowenstein, The Wall Street Journal

“Weidermann has so deeply internalized the writings and temperaments of Zweig and Roth, he luminously and empathically chronicles the nuances of their bond, affirming their deep belief in writing, which Roth described as a ‘sacred duty,’ and the ‘countless blessings’ of books, as Zweig put it. A funny, bittersweet, tragic, and haunting tribute to the radiance of love and literature in the grimmest of times.” — Donna Seaman, Booklist

“The book is rendered in vignettes notable for their economy of language, and Weidermann’s keen sense of place anchors an incisive, sympathetic overview of the sweeping political and cultural shift in 1930s Germany. Janeway’s elegant translation only strengthen’s a worthy addition to the growing body of work on Zweig. . . . Highly recommended.” — Library Journal

“[Weidermann’s] writing is careful, respectful, and he discloses no secrets, exposes no scandals; he simply introduces the salon in a ‘You Were There’ approach, acting as a camera recording events that have long since been revealed, adding commentary that rarely leaves the heads of the writers whose minds he ostensibly probes. Carol Brown Janeway, best known for her translation of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader, and who died shortly after completing work on Ostend, has maintained Weidermann’s tone and has captured the existential essence of the omniscient narrator’s voice . . . . There are some lovely insights.” — Bookslut

“In prose that reflects Zweig’s own sparse, pretty, razor-sharp words, journalist and Der Spiegel literary critic Weidermann puts his newsman talents to work for a lush re-creation of the summer a handful of Europe’s most well-known intellectuals and artists gathered together in the hotels and bars of this resort community for a thrilling mix of hope, despair, and disbelief while the world outside them fell apart.” — Signature, 7 Books We’re Excited to Crack Open in 2016

“Sparkling. . . . Weidermann’s storytelling is piquant.” — Publishers Weekly

“Taut, novelistic. . . . In lyrical prose, Weidermann re-creates the atmosphere of an ephemeral moment for both writers and the disillusioned men and women who gathered with them. . . . Evocative, sharply drawn portraits and a wry, knowing narrative voice make for an engrossing history.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“Volker Weidermann brings this sense of crisis to life in his beautifully written book about Zweig and Joseph Roth…It is a fascinating story, brilliantly told. These writers come together for a summer and then move on, providing a snapshot of the desperate situation of the mid-1930s.“ — David Herman, Jewish Chronicle review

Stefan Zweig travels with his beloved Lotte and a typewriter. Despite a liquor ban, Joseph Roth arrives to spend vacation with his best friend and to write. He also falls in love one last time – with Irmgard Keun, who just wanted to get away from the land of the book burners. The love between Roth and the young, passionate Keun is as surprising as the friendship between the millionaire Zweig and the skilled drinker Roth is outlandish.

More writers make their way to Ostend. Sun, sea, drinks – it could just as well be a vacation among friends. That is, if the political situation weren’t escalating daily, if they weren’t all being trailed, if their books hadn’t been banned and if they hadn’t lost their homeland. They are poets on the run, writers in exile. With precision and insight, Volker Weidermann tells the engaging story of the summer shortly before the start of the Second World War, when Zweig, Roth and Keun came together again to celebrate life as only the desperate can.