Child of All Nations by Irmgard Keun

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Kully knows some things you don’t learn at school. She knows the right way to roll a cigarette and pack a suitcase. She knows that cars are more dangerous than lions. She knows you can’t enter a country without a passport or visa. And she knows that she and her parents can’t go back to Germany again – her father’s books are banned there. But there are also things she doesn’t understand, like why there might be a war in Europe – just that there are men named Hitler, Mussolini and Chamberlain involved. Little Kully is far more interested where their next meal will come from and the ladies who seem to buzz around her father.

Meanwhile she and her parents roam through Europe. Her mother would just like to settle down, but as her restless father struggles to find a new publisher, the three must escape from country to country as their visas expire, money runs out and hotel bills mount up.


About Irmgard Keun

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Irmgard Keun was born in Berlin in 1905. After leaving school and trying her luck as an actress, she began to write in 1929 and found instant success with her early novels, which were blacklisted by the Nazis for their 'immoral' depictions of the Modern Young Woman. From 1936 to 1938 she travelled through Europe with the writer Joseph Roth and published several novels, including Child of All Nations in 1938. Roth died in 1939 and Keun spent the war in Germany, living semi-legally under an assumed name. Following the war, she made a living writing humorous sketches for radio and magazines, published one more novel and had a daughter, whom she brought up alone. At the end of her life, her books gained a new following from a younger generation of feminists. Irmgard Keun died in 1982. Michael Hofmann is the author of several books of poems and a book of criticism, Behind the Lines, and the translator of many modern and contemporary authors, including Joseph Roth. Penguin publish his translations of Kafka's Metamorphosis and Other Stories and Ernst J nger's Storm of Steel.
Published January 29, 2009 by Penguin. 198 pages
Genres: History, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Child of All Nations

Kirkus Reviews

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“I wonder what the point is of children in Germany still having to learn to read and write?” This philosophical query—naïve, incisive, funny—is typical of Kully.

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The Guardian

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Child of All Nations by Imgard Keun Find this on the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop It is 1938, and nine-year-old Kully and her parents are exiled f...

Feb 07 2009 | Read Full Review of Child of All Nations

Publishers Weekly

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Peter—irresponsible, frequently broke, too fond of booze and women—has his family living on credit at fancy hotels and scrounges constantly and outrageously off publishers, relatives and acquaintances, often leaving Kully and Annie for weeks on end as he travels to drum up funds.

Jul 14 2008 | Read Full Review of Child of All Nations

Review (Barnes & Noble)

You don't expect a novel about a family tramping around pre–World War II Europe to hold you in its grip so tight that you read the entire book in one sitting.

Nov 17 2008 | Read Full Review of Child of All Nations

London Review of Books

Secret knowing is a weight we all carry, but when you have to know for or instead of your parents or the world, you are obliged to know everything.

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