The End of Days (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Badge
The End of Days By Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Translated by) Cover Image
By Jenny Erpenbeck, Susan Bernofsky (Translated by)
This book is harder to get and may take several weeks if available. Please email with questions.

Staff Reviews

What if the infinite possibilities held in each moment could be explored, if we could walk down the different paths opened up by every choice, every stroke of fate? In this flawlessly intricate, powerful, deeply moving book Jenny Erpenbeck does exactly that, telling the story of a family through the upheavals of 20th-century Europe. Between each chapter, a detail is changed that sets the protagonists’ lives on completely different courses. Taken together, these parallel lives form an astonishingly complex yet vivid mosaic of human experience and suffering - a stirring reflection on memory, fate, and our relationship with history.

— Edoardo


Winner of the Presigious Hans Fallada Prize and a bestseller in Europe, The End of Days offers a unique view on twentieth-century German history.

The End of Days, by acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, consists essentially of five “books,” each leading to a different death of an unnamed woman protagonist. How could it all have gone differently? the narrator asks in the intermezzos between. The first chapter begins with the death of a baby in the early twentieth-century Hapsburg Empire. In the next chapter, the same girl grows up in Vienna, but her strange relationship with a boy leads to another death. In the next scenario, she survives  adolescence and moves to Russia with her husband. Both are dedicated Communists, but our heroine is sent to a labor camp. She is spared in the next chapter with the help of someone’s intervention and returns to Berlin to become a respected writer. . . . 

The End of Days is a brilliant novel of contingency and fate. A novel of incredible breadth, yet amazing concision, The End of Days offers a unique overview of German and German-Jewish history by “one of the finest, most exciting authors alive” (Michael Faber).


About the Author

Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. New Directions publishes her books The Old Child & Other Stories, The Book of Words, and Visitation, which NPR called "a story of the century as seen by the objects we've known and lost along the way."

Susan Bernofsky is the acclaimed translator of Hermann Hesse, Robert Walser, and Jenny Erpenbeck, and the recipient of many awards, including the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize and the Hermann Hesse Translation Prize. She teaches literary translation at Columbia University and lives in New York.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780811221924
ISBN-10: 081122192X
Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: November 11th, 2014
Pages: 256
Language: English