Published when the author was just twenty-three, Life Goes On was Hans Keilson’s literary debut, an extraordinary autobiographical novel that paints a dark yet illuminating portrait of Germany between the world wars. It is the story of Herr Seldersen—a Jewish store owner modeled on Keilson’s father, a textile merchant and decorated World War I veteran—along with his wife and son, Albrecht, and the troubles they encounter as the German economy collapses and politics turn rancid.
The book was banned by the Nazis in 1934. Shortly afterward, following his editor’s advice, Keilson emigrated to the Netherlands, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Life Goes On is an essential volume for readers of Keilson’s later work. At the age of one hundred, with his one copy of the first edition of Life Goes On in hand, Keilson told The New York Times that he would love to see his first novel reissued, and translated as well. “Then you would have my whole biography,” he told them. He died at the age of one hundred and one.