Jurek Becker

Jacob the Liar

(German title: Jakob der Lügner)
ca. 301 pages
Jurek Becker
Foto: Jurek Becker
© Nikolaus Becker

Jurek Becker was born on September 30, 1937, in Lodz/Poland and died on March 14, 1997, in Sieseby/Schleswig-Holstein.

From 1939 to 1945 Becker grew up in the Ghetto in Lodz and was later interred in the concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen. In 1945 he moved to East Berlin where between 1957 and 1960 he studied Philosophy at Humboldt University. In 1960 for political reasons Becker was barred from studying further and thus transferred to film school in Babelsberg.

Becker is the author of numerous screenplays. In 1969 his first novel was published – Jacob the Liar became known throughout the world. Jurek Becker’s work was awarded with numerous prizes, including the Grimme Prize and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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By chance Jacob Heym has learned that the Red Army is only a few hundred kilometers away. And now he has told all the others who are locked into the Ghetto of a Polish city with him and who have lost almost all hope. So that the others believe him, Jacob says that he is in possession of a radio. Now they all come to him for the latest news and a little bit of encouragement, the strength to resist a little while longer in a world in which the Germans are systematically exterminating the Jews. And so he becomes Jacob the Liar: he lies in order to give people hope again and the strength to go on.

Jacob the Liar was first published in 1969. Since then Jurek Becker’s extraordinary debut novel has been translated into over twenty languages and belongs to the canon of not only German but world literature. Louis Begley, who like Jurek Becker was a Jewish child in German-occupied Poland, has provided an afterword for this new edition.

Other publications

Amanda herzlos/Amanda Heartless (1994)

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Previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Spanish world rights (Tusquets), Russia (Azbooka), France (Grasset), Italy (Feltrinelli), Sweden (Norstedts), Denmark (Gyldendal), Poland (Polnord Wydawnictwo), Slovenia (Hermagoras), Turkey (Ayrinti)

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