Farrar, Straus and Giroux
“Scintillating and rather magical . . . House of Exile is an extraordinary book, and a really rare accomplishment.” —Michael Hoffman, The Times Literary Supplement
In 1933 the author and political activist Heinrich Mann and his partner, Nelly Kroeger, fled Nazi Germany, finding refuge first in the south of France and later, in great despair, in Los Angeles, where Nelly committed suicide in 1944 and Heinrich died in 1950. Born into a wealthy middle-class family in Lübeck, Heinrich was one of the leading representatives of Weimar culture. Nelly was twenty-seven years younger, the adopted daughter of a fisherman and a hostess in a Berlin bar. As far as Heinrich’s family was concerned, she was from the wrong side of the tracks.
In House of Exile, Heinrich and Nelly’s story is crossed with others from their circle of friends, relatives, and contemporaries: Heinrich’s brother, Thomas Mann; his sister, Carla; their friends Bertolt Brecht, Alfred Döblin, and Joseph Roth; and, beyond them, the writers James Joyce, Franz Kafka, and Virginia Woolf, among others. Evelyn Juers brings this generation of exiles to life with tremendous poignancy and imaginative power. In train compartments, ship cabins, and rented rooms, the Manns clung to what was left to them—their bodies, their minds, and their books—in a turbulent and self-destructive era.
Approaching from a distance, hand in hand like lovers, the tall blonde and the old gentleman both called out to him – Brecht! He turned towards them and waved. The Californian sun glinted from his glasses like the sword of Zorro. It was early morning. Heat and the scent of jasmine hung loosely all about the market-place. Sunlight played upon the unreal splendour of the fruit and vegetables. Not quite real. Some people claimed the produce of this country lacked character, it always looked much more promising, bigger, brighter, than it tasted
“House of Exile is an engaging, unconventional exercise in collective biography . . . [that] mixes historical research with almost poetic imagination, creating a compelling panorama.” —Ian Brunskill, The Times (London)
“Scintillating and rather magical . . . House of Exile is an extraordinary book, and a really rare accomplishment." —Michael Hofman, The Times Literary Supplement
“Juers creates a composite subjectivity through which the reader experiences the unfolding political events with unusual intimacy and immediacy. Her use of various running motifs to connect different parts of the story adds to the effect . . . It's a provocative but inspired application of the methods of poetry to non-fiction . . . [There is] an implicit assertion that, in the right hands, history and biography can do everything the novel can do, only better. [Juers] certainly makes a good case for it.” —James Lasdun, The Guardian
“It is rare to find a book as well written as Evelyn Juers’s House of Exile: The Life and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann. This dual biography is the richest, most intelligent and intellectually satisfying book I’ve read in years. I lived gratefully within its marvels for a precious week. Among the great tangle of facts and destinies streaming across Juers’s pages, she never once loses touch with the compelling essentials of her story, but navigates her material with masterful assurance. This book has been composed with as much attention to the pleasure of the reader as it has to satisfying Juers’s authentic need to own the story. I was greatly moved by it. It is a masterpiece and a joy to read.” —Alex Miller, author of Autumn Laing