Of love and betrayal

Book Reading

Of love and betrayal


n enlightening evening awaited all the lovers of books as a reading and discussion of the book, The Reader took place at the Max Mueller Bhavan recently. The beautifully-written book by German author Bernhard Schlink has been quite a hit with the readers all over the world. Based in post-war Germany, The Reader is a gripping tale of love, betrayal and guilt. In the 1950s, 15-year-old Michael Berg falls in love with older woman Hanna Schmitz. But the romance ends when she disappears one day leaving him clueless. He expects to never see her again, but to his horror, she surfaces in his life years later, as an accused in a trial due to her actions as a concentration camp guard late in the war.

The Reader was also adapted into a movie of the same name directed by Stephen Daldry, starring David Kross and Kate Winslet, with Kate Winslet walking with the 2009 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Hanna Schmitz.

The panelists at the event were Arul Mani, reader in the English department at St Joseph’s College and C K Meena, feature-writer, columnist, author and teacher. The readers of the book were Dr Cheriyan Alexander, professor of English at St Joseph’s College, Srinath Perur, writer and Avinash Kuduvalli, a student. “We are going to be very rude and spoil the book for you,” joked Arul. Though there were a few spoilers, all of them formed a crucial part of the discussion, and weren’t big enough for the story to be spoilt.

“It’s a tale of guilt — both personal and collective,” said C K Meena. “And the tussle between understanding and condemnation.” After the reading, which was divided into three parts, included excerpts from how Michael meets Hanna, when he meets her again as a law student, and the courtroom scenes at the time when she gets sentenced. It was an interesting session for those who had read the book or watched the movie. It kept the listeners occupied with the reading being extended for a while more.

A question and answer session with the panelists that followed, gave the opportunity to the audience to present their views on the book. Besides, copies of The Reader, which were available at a special price during the event sold like hot cakes. 

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