the observer Sun 29 March 2009
Modelled on The Odyssey, this latest novel by the author of The Reader returns - with a homing instinct all of its own - to the themes of Schlink's bestseller: German national guilt, wartime secrets and the unravelling of right and wrong through the medium of literature. Peter Debauer is a German legal publisher who always believed his Swiss father was killed while working for the Red Cross in the war. In middle age, Debauer comes upon a proof of a novel published by his grandparents at the end of the war and realises that it holds clues to his father's true identity. Was he a Nazi polemicist who escaped to the US? It might lack the killer punch of The Reader, but Schlink's book of longing remains both stylish and intelligent.