Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination


Edited by Lynne Sharon Schwartz

When German author W. G. Sebald died in a car accident at the age of fifty-seven, the literary world mourned the loss of a writer whose oeuvre it was just beginning to appreciate. Through published interviews with and essays on Sebald, award-winning translator and author Lynne Sharon Schwartz offers a profound portrait of the writer, who has been praised posthumously for his unflinching explorations of historical cruelty, memory, and dislocation.

With contributions from poet, essayist, and translator Charles Simic, New Republic editor Ruth Franklin, Bookworm radio host Michael Silverblatt, and more, The Emergence of Memory offers Sebald's own voice in interviews between 1997 up to a month before his death in 2001. Also included are cogent accounts of almost all of Sebald's books, thematically linked to events in the contributors' own lives.

Contributors included Carole Angier, Joseph Cuomo, Ruth Franklin, Michael Hofmann, Arthur Lubow, Tim Parks, Michael Silverblatt, Charles Simic, and Eleanor Wachtel.

A portrait in conversations and critical writing of one of the towering literary figures of our times.


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“In each of the five interviews included here the truly remarkable voice of Sebald is laid bare upon the page. One gets a clear sense of the deep intelligence and the wry, self-deprecating humor so modestly displayed and so spontaneous.”

“Schwartz does a fine job of evoking this elusive author.”

“In The Emergence of Memory, interviews and critical essays expose the tactile reality of a writer who so often dealt with intangible emotions. . . . Lynne Sharon Schwartz's compilation of criticism and in-depth interviews by prominent writers and critics reveals Sebald's curiosity and obligation as a writer.”


W. G. Sebald (1944–2001) was born in Wertach im Allgäu, Germany. For thirty years, he taught at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and from 1989 to 1994 was the first director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. His novels—The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo, and Austerlitz—have won a number of international awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Berlin Literature Prize, and the Literatur Nord Prize. He was also the author of three books of poems and the book-length essay, On the Natural History of Destruction.