A penetrating study of ordinary people resisting the Nazi
occupation—and, true to its title, a dark comedy of wartime manners—Comedy
in a Minor Key tells the story of Wim and Marie, a Dutch couple who first
hide a Jew they know as Nico, then must dispose of his body when he dies of
pneumonia. This novella, first published in 1947 and now translated into
English for the first time, shows Hans Keilson at his best: deeply ironic,
penetrating, sympathetic, and brilliantly modern, an heir to Joseph Roth and
Franz Kafka. In 2008, when Keilson received Germany’s prestigious Welt
Literature Prize, the citation praised his work for exploring “the destructive
impulse at work in the twentieth century, down to its deepest psychological and
Published to celebrate Keilson’s hundredth birthday, Comedy in a
Minor Key will introduce American readers to a forgotten classic author, a
witness to World War II and a sophisticated storyteller whose books remain as
fresh as when they first came to light.
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