Go, Went, Gone

Go, Went, Gone

Book - 2017
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The novel tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes.
Publisher: New York : New Directions Publishing Corporation, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
Branch Call Number: FICTION ERP PBK
Characteristics: 286 pages ; 20 cm
Additional Contributors: Bernofsky, Susan - Translator
ISBN: 9780811225946
0811225941

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From Library Staff

I found this story of a retired German professor who becomes involved in the lives of African refugees in Berlin a timely and thought-provoking depiction of the plight of asylum seekers. It’s an exquisitely-written portrayal of the connections between human beings, the failures of law and social ... Read More »


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ArapahoeJulieH Dec 14, 2018

It’s hard to encapsulate this novel in a few sentences. Go, Went, Gone is beautifully written yet deeply disturbing response the refugee crisis in the West. Richard is a widower and recently retired classics professor living in Berlin. He lives his life in a routine manner until he observes a group of African refugees staging a hunger strike. He becomes intimately connected to these men assisting in their plight to gain visibility and work. The novel brings into focus the extreme sacrifice refugees make in order to escape horrendous situations in their home countries only to be met with resistance, racism and invisibility in the countries they have escaped to. The novel is powerful and hopeful in depicting the resilience of these refugees as well as the commitment and compassion of people like Richard to their plight. This is a novel that echoes our present moment and brings clarity to the reality of how the West treats its refugee population.

SPL_Melanie Aug 15, 2018

This book takes on very timely themes of migration, our sense of identity, belonging, and entitlement, and the responsibility of us all to recognize our common humanity. Erpenbeck writes with intensity and with moral complexity; while it's a timely topic with political currency, this story is a story, not a screed. It's not a political pamphlet at all, rather, a deep and compassionate exploration of people and relationships, and the human connection we owe to one another. It was a thought-provoking and important read.

This book was just nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize 2018.

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nellybells
Dec 09, 2017

Without a doubt makes my Top 10 list for 2017. The blurb above is completely accurate. Readers on other websites (The Guardian, for ex) have been talking about this book for months. Susan Bernofsky is the translator and at times the English was so fluid I forgot it was Berlin. Many interesting strands: our narrator is from the GDR and being in the West carries a lot of weight; how he navigates bureaucracy. He opens himself to these much maligned desperate people and he is changed. I adore the ending.

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