Austerlitz is a novel by the German writer W. G. Sebald , published in 2001 , which tells the story of a man with no past, no country or language, who feels like an intruder everywhere.
The novel begins at the station of Antwerp , where the narrator meets for the first time with the protagonist of the work, and that is where the relationship between the two begins, sometimes more intimate and more distant. Through casual or agreed meetings between the narrator and the protagonist, Jacques Austerlitz, the history of the lonely traveler gradually reveals itself.
Austerlitz, a Jewish child refugee in the 1940s , came to Wales , where he grew up in the home of a preacher and his wife, elderly and sad. After growing long years in a solitary environment, he knows his true origin, which makes him feel like a stranger.
The novel, written in long and complex phrases, reminiscent of Thomas Mann’s style , turns out to be a journey through the history of Europe from capitalism and industrialization to the disasters of the twentieth century : persecution and the exodus of the Jews , especially. It revolves around the search for identity , memory and story , which allow one to know belonging to a community, escaping from the uprooting suffered by Austerlitz.