“Is this how one becomes an artist? By growing accustomed to the madness of others?”
The international bestseller: the tragic and triumphant life and death of one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary artists. ‘Sad, beautiful, indignant, wrenching, important’ Sarah Perry, author of THE ESSEX SERPENT
Charlotte Salomon is born into a family stricken by suicide and a country at war - but there is something exceptional about her. She has a gift, a talent for painting. And she has a great love, for a brilliant, eccentric musician.
But just as she is coming in to her own as an artist, death is coming to control her country. The Nazis have come to power and, a Jew in Berlin, her life is narrowing - she is kept from her art, torn from her love and her family, chased from her country. And still she is not safe, not from the madness that has hunted her family, or the one gripping Europe …
Charlotte is a heart-breaking true story - inspiring, unflinching, awful, hopeful - of a life filled with curiosity, animated by genius and cut short by hatred. A beautifully, lucidly told memorial, it has become an international sensation.
“I am deeply, deeply affected by this sad, beautiful, indignant, wrenching, important book … It is an artistic privilege and (I think) almost a moral duty that you all read this”
Sarah Perry, Author Of The Essex Serpent
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“Foenkinos’s prose, exactingly translated by Sam Taylor, has, like the lives it describes, been reduced to its essentials. Each sentence begins on a new line and arrives at its point in the fewest possible moves … From its striking first sentence there is no turning away from the abysmal sadness and injustice of the artist’s story … A far superior tribute to any commemorative plaque”
“A tour de force. Every important detail and much more of this supreme artist’s life … is recorded lovingly, passionately, obsessively and lyrically … The verse-like narrative … produces a befittingly vibrant creativity”
“The reader follows, lump in the throat, fascinated by this tragic fate, which is told with the utmost precision”
“Astounding … Foenkinos makes us a part of this hopefully growing community: that of the admirers of a young artist named Charlotte Salomon, assassinated when she was 26 years old”
David Foenkinos is an award-winning French novelist and screenwriter. Charlotte, inspired by the life of Charlotte Salomon, won the Prix Renaudot and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens; it has sold more than half a million copies in France and been translated into nineteen languages.
Sam Taylor previously translated HHhH, by Laurent Binet, and is the author of the novels The Island at the End of the World, The Amnesiac and The Republic of Trees. He lives in France and the United States.
Charlotte Salomon was born in Berlin, 1917. Unknown in her lifetime, she was one of Germany’s great modern artists. Her greatest achievement was Life? or Theatre? A Song-play - an autobiographical series of 769 works, which she painted over two years in the South of France while in hiding from the Nazis. It has gone on to inspire films, plays and an opera. Salomon died in Auschwitz in 1943, gassed along with her unborn child shortly after her arrival.