On the way home, a fifteen-year-old boy called Michael Berg gets into difficulties. A woman in her mid-thirties helps him out. Some time later, the boy takes her a bunch of flowers as a way of saying thank you. He visits her again. Hanna is the first woman he has ever desired, and a secret love begins. But there is something dark and mysterious about Hanna, and she reacts irritably to his questions about who she is. One day she disappears. She vanishes from Michael’s life, but not from his thoughts. As a student of law he encounters Hanna again in court. The young man gets a shock when he realises he has loved a criminal. He can see no rhyme nor reason in the way Hanna behaves during the trial. That is, until the scales fall from his eyes. For Hanna is not only guilty of a cruel crime, she also has a desperately well-protected secret. The past is unveiled – Michael’s past love, and the past of Germany. Michael realises that he cannot escape from either of them. A woman who is difficult to understand or accept, either for Michael or the reader. And the dilemma of a generation. »Der Vorleser« is published in 48 languages.
»The arrival, almost unheralded, of a masterly work. The reviewer’s sole function is to say as loudly as he is able ›Read this‹ and ›Read it again‹. ›The Reader‹ is rapidly becoming a touchstone of moral literary throughout Europe.«The Observer
»A formally beautiful, disturbing and finally morally devastating novel. ›The Reader‹ ensnares both heart and mind.«Los Angeles Times
»There are few German novelists who are capable of inventing such ingenious and sarcastic plots as Schlink, or of writing such precise, effortless and incisive German.«Frankfurter Rundschau
»Arresting, philosophically elegant, morally complex. Mr. Schlink tells his story with marvelous directness and simplicity."The New York Times