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The Berlin Shadow: A Journey In Search Of My Father’s Childhood



Original Language: English (UK) | 80,000 words | 2018

2 Seas Represents: German, Dutch and Nordic rights.

Rights sold: UK (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)


 It is an “audacious and deeply moving memoir” told in three time-frames featuring the escape of the writer’s father from Berlin to Britain in 1938, Lichtenstein’s upbringing in rural Wales and the journey the pair take to present-day Berlin. The Bookseller

The Berlin Shadow is a memoir spanning three timeframes – the author’s childhood, his father’s childhood, and the contemporary journey that unites them as they set out together for Berlin in a quest to confront the event that has dominated both of their lives.

Hans Lichtenstein arrived in Britain in 1939, an unaccompanied child refugee who escaped Nazi Germany on the Kindertransport. Since then, he has revealed little else about his childhood. Do its secrets offer an explanation for this gentle man’s frequent erratic behaviour; his violent eruptions of anger and thirst for extreme danger? And can his son escape from a parental mould that has driven him unwittingly towards his own journey of isolation and recklessness?

The Berlin Shadow is a book about the trauma that is passed down through generations, and the silences that keep this trauma suppressed. Its major themes are universal – of a child’s quest to find a shared language with a parent, and of the fundamental need to understand a parent’s behaviour before finding love and forgiveness for them, and empowerment for oneself. Ultimately this is a story of hope, as the father and son’s journey helps them both to emerge from the shadows of history and into the light.

The Berlin Shadow is a literary but accessible family memoir, set against the backdrop of the Second World War and the ghosts of contemporary Berlin. The books Dadland by Keggie Carew, Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding and The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal are reference points for this book’s target readership, as is Tim Parks’s memoir Teach Us To Sit Still.