The Wall and Other Stories is a new collection of stories by German author Jurek Becker (1937−1997), best known for his novel Jakob the Liar. These six stories have never been translated into English before or published together. Most of the stories take place during the Holocaust or in Communist East Germany after World War II. Also included is a short biographical introduction written by Becker’s widow, Christine Becker.
The main story, “The Wall,” takes place when a family is moved from their home in a ghetto to a transit camp during the Holocaust. Two boys decide to climb the wall surrounding the ghetto at night and go back to their former home to retrieve some of their favorite possessions. Eventually the boys scramble over the wall, injuring themselves, search their homes, and realize that they cannot get back over the wall the same way. In “The Tale of the Sick Princess,” a dying princess asks for the one gift that could cure her, a “cloud.” My favorite story was “The Most Popular Family Story,” which recounts the one favorite family story of Uncle Gideon: leaving Lublin on a big business trip to London. Uncle Gideon, who had never travelled past Krakow before, tries to make his way through London, feeling like a fish out of water. Everyone and everything seems strange — the people, the hotels, the food… “Suddenly, he is halted by the question of how is he supposed to survive a week in London without food?” Becker reaches deep down in his childhood memories to create stories filled with astonishing dialogue and imaginative prose.