Geniet från Breslau (The Genius from Breslau; 2018)

He dreamed of becoming the greatest scientist in the world. She hoped that the rapid developments of the era would make it possible also for a woman to achieve long-awaited success.

After all, they lived in the most promising of ages, in the most successful of nations.

Everything would have been perfect. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the most promising of ages and the most successful of nations was a bomb waiting to explode.

It is the new glorious empire of Germany. Who could imagine that a world war is just around the corner?

The historical novel The Genius from Breslau is the story about the dramatic love affair between the two chemists Fritz Haber and Clara Immerwahr, and the turbulent times in which they lived.

The Genius from Breslau was nominated for the 2019 Swedish Public Radio Novel Prize.

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”The Genius from Breslau” actually succeeds in describing a number of stories within the principal one: it is a moving love story, an erudite description of the labors of natural science research, a historically extremely well-grounded story about a Europe in the decades before the Great War that would blow up the continent in bits… Lena Einhorn’s story is so evocative, the language is rich in images without becoming flowery, empathetic without becoming cloying, and the story is so superbly composed that it makes me, who hates everything called chemistry and physics, read and read for far too long in the evenings. To top it all, ”The Genius from Breslau” is not only captivating. It also asks important existential questions without writing them out. This is also quite an achievement.

Gunnar Bolin, Swedish Public Radio

 

It is precisely at the breaking points between the age’s progressive optimism and it’s vaguely disturbing undercurrents that Einhorn’s epic work – science novel, round-up of an era, love story with fatal consequences – emerges and takes shape… Elegantly, the author succeeds in taking on the documentary material without turning the story into a fictionalized history lesson… Through the psychologically penetrating and well-drawn personal portraits, the reader soon becomes both “you, brother and sister” with the main characters.

Martin Lagerholm, Svenska Dagbladet

 

It is a novel that draws you in, Lena Einhorn is meticulously read and allows the reader to follow the main characters’ feelings, hopes and aspirations from the inside while she freely paints and explains the historical environment in which they move.

Lars Linder, Dagens Nyheter

 

Einhorn’s novel is a magnificent documentary novel, told with the narrative of fiction. Her sense of dramaturgy is known since her previous books, and the 500+ pages are constantly engaging. Even the sometimes quite detailed descriptions of chemical processes I devour with unexpected avidity. One of Lena Einhorn’s strengths is how she constantly manages to connect the big events with the very close ones. The book contains, for example, in some side tracks depictions of heartfelt friendship, which I return to long after I have finished reading.

Annina Rabe, Expressen

 

Lena Einhorn’s presentation is journalistically written, with many dialogues that are hardly documentary and also with reports of events of a more fictional nature, but the author still stays, as far as I can judge, on a safely documentary level. One follows the presentation with breathless excitement…

Lennart Bromander, Aftonbladet

 

The documentary narration has the mix of sober distance and vibrating presence that is Einhorn’s signature. She is also skilled at charging events and building them up dramaturgically. One of the most poignant sections in the book concerns the manufacture of chlorine gas and the various animal experiments that are carried out with it before it reaches the soldiers at the front.

Oline Stig, Sydsvenskan

 

Lena Einhorn’s latest book ”The Genius from Breslau” is a multi-layered story, it can be read from different angles She writes a story that is upsetting, sad, feminist, historical – simply magnificent. Her documentary novel about the Nobel laureate Fritz Haber I’m guessing will be this year’s August Prize laureate.

Yvonne Gröning, Dala-Demokraten

 

Lena Einhorn’s phenomenally well-researched and delightfully well-written documentary novel ”Geniet fran Breslau” follows Fritz and Clara from early childhood until the fateful moment of suicide. With Wilhelminian Germany as a background, two fascinating lives are drawn among assimilated Jews within the educated bourgeoisie.

Gregor Flakierski, Dalarnas Tidning + 17 additional papers

 

Lena Einhorn has in her documentary novel of just over 500 pages masterfully depicted a country’s transformation, unfortunate, strategic decisions and inability to think in new ways… Lena Einhorn has a good sense of both tension and dramaturgy, she writes simply and convincingly and moves effortlessly between large happenings and chains of events on a micro level.

Bo Bjelvehammar, Tidningen Kulturen

 

This is the literary genre that Lena Einhorn fully masters, as she has shown in the documentary novels about Greta Garbo and Siri von Essen. She touches deeply. So here, too, when she reproduces the feverish intoxication that prevailed around the turn of the last century, where death and war became poetry…

Marianne Ekenbjörn, Norrbottenskuriren

 

Lena Einhorn tells brilliantly in the form of a novel about the chemist Fritz Haber, a German Jew who at the turn of the last century revolutionized agriculture and won the Nobel Prize, but who could not resist nationalism.

Nina van den Brink, Fokus

 

The story of these people’s destinies is articulated by Einhorn with an insight and feeling that is pleasantly appealing, in a literal sense. Reading her is like being personally addressed by an initiated storyteller who has much interesting and urgent to convey

Hans Olov Ohlson, Norrländska Socialdemokraten

 

In The Genius from Breslau, Lena Einhorn allows the Haber couple’s aspirations to be recorded against a historical background where sharply drawn settings from the early twentieth century contribute to creating an understanding of Fritz and Clara and the society they lived in. The novel covers an incredible amount, from misogyny and anti-Semitism to Europe’s political and scientific development from the 19th century onwards, without the story losing its focus.

Elisabeth Brännström, Opulens

 

How can a documentary novel about an old man, who, all right, did figure out how to produce artificial fertilization and therefore received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918, and his time, be a page-turner? Well, in Lena Einhorn’s hands, this novel in 171 chapters over more than 500 pages not only brings forth a life destiny, but also gives life to contemporary movements and voices, thanks to the novel’s freedom that never leaves the paths of credibility… The author’s knowledge and her imagination have here succeeded to marry completely. The ending, well-known, is chiseled out with psychological feeling that elevates both the epic of the novel and the anguished cry of human destiny.

L.S., Tranås-Posten

 

”The Genius from Breslau” is a very readable book. It depicts another time and another place that is not so different from ours. The book poses questions to the reader: about scientific research and personal responsibility, about the meaning of identity and belonging.

Johan Fingal, Tranås Tidning

 

Lena Einhorn is admirable, because she has grasped the material and has then been able to bring the people to life… A novel can thus rule both emotion and intellect. It’s a bit spooky to follow life in the glorious German Empire when we know how it all turned out. But the whole thing is well described by the author.

Dag Sandahl, Östra Småland