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Die Leinwand

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  141 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Der Psychiater Amnon Zichroni besitzt die Fähigkeit, Erinnerungen anderer Menschen nachzuerleben. In Zürich begegnet er dem Geigenbauer Minsky, den er ermuntert, seine Kindheit in einem NS-Vernichtungslager schreibend zu verarbeiten. Das Buch wird ein Erfolg, doch beider Existenz steht auf dem Spiel, als der Journalist Jan Wechsler behauptet, Minskys Text sei reine Fiktion ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 2012 by dtv (first published 2010)
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MJ Nicholls
Sedate prose lurks inside this inventive novel that can be read in a thrice manner—alternating between the two narratives, or reading each of the narratives in a chosen order (I read Amnon first, Jan second). I wonder whether the overall experience might have been enhanced had I opted to alternate. Each tale, despite the elegant prose, the excellent translation, unwinds at a leisurely canter (the Amnon tale toploads with back story, limping towards the reveal after a lot of prosaic incident), wh ...more
Chad Post
Jul 20, 2015 Chad Post rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DISCLAIMER: I am the publisher of the book and thus spent approximately two years reading and editing and working on it. So take my review with a grain of salt, or the understanding that I am deeply invested in this text and know it quite well. Also, I would really appreciate it if you would purchase this book, since it would benefit Open Letter directly.

To cut to the chase: this book is god damn amazing. When I first heard about this--thanks to Ed Park and a short BBC video--I was convinced tha
Aug 22, 2013 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pick up this book, and you'll immediately notice that it has a front cover on both sides, each oriented so that you can start the book from either end. Investigate a little further, and you find that this book offers two strands in the same tale, and that you can read them in any way you like: one after the other, or in turns.

I settled on the latter approach: I picked up the "Wechsler" side of the book, read chapter 1, then flipped over to the "Zichroni" side and read its first chapter, then wen
May 08, 2012 Suhrob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Stein explores the questions to what extent does our identity depend on our memory and how fragile is it. The story is told from two perspectives, from the two sides of the book. One side tells the story of psychologist Amnon Zichroni who has a mysterious power of living through the memories of his patients and who helps an older man (Minsky) to recover his childhood memories from the concentration camp. The other part is about the writer Jan Wechsler who uncovers that the Minsky's memo ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Marina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Also ich hab es im weniger als ein Tag gelesen und es hat mir sehr gut gefallen, aber wahrscheinlich bin ich die einzige Person die sich der Frage stellt wer hat der Koffer geschickt, warum ist der Jan durchgedreht und so weiter und sofort. Mir kommt es vor wie ein halb geschriebenes Buch. Sonnst hab ich es ganz gut gefunden, es kann ja sein, dass es an mir liegt und ich nicht ganz dicht bin, wer weißt...Die Erklärung die ich abgeliefert hab ist nicht wirklich nötig gewesen, aber ich schrieb es ...more
Aaron (Typographical Era)
I’m going to fail miserably at describing this book. Not just its contents, but the physicality of the object, which is so important in this particular instance because it represents a uniqueness that could never be properly replicated digitally in this current age of massive e-reading adoption. This is not a book to be read on your Kindle or your iPad or your nook. This is an object that you have to interact with beyond the expected page turning that normally goes along with cracking open a boo ...more
Full Stop

Review by Scott Cheshire

Amnon Zichroni, a devout orthodox Jew and one of two dueling narrators in Benjamin Stein’s remarkable novel The Canvas, asks:

Why, for example, does Torah study for children begin with Vayikra, the third book of Moses, and not with the first? Children learn all the details about the offering of the sacrifices in the Temple, a bloody business, and barely comprehensible for five- or six-year olds. It would be more reasonable to start w
Mar 09, 2014 Ferris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind-boggling, complex, mystical, creative.....these are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind after reading this novel...or should I say novels? This novel has two first pages, two epigraphs, and two protagonists. The reader can begin at either end of the physical book and read to the center, then flip the book over and read to the center again. I know, sounds gimmicky, but it works on many levels.

The primary themes in this tale are memory and identity. Memories can change, identities
Sep 22, 2015 Ingo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Of the two stories in this book, I found "Jan Wechsler" intriguing. The transformation between the personalities is unsettling and a gripping read.
More puzzling is the other story. But are we even interested in Benjamin Steins personal vendetta against the jewisch religion. His unforgiving exposure of the jewish god as a nitpicking being of lesser intelligence, who cares little about a person as whole, but is only interested in whether the person follows the 1000s of rules in the talmud, wears t
Mike Lamonte
This book was honestly quite confusing. I should have known that going into it, because it is an English translation of a German book. The book is heavy with references to Judaism and its culture, traditions, and practices. Though the book does do an admirable job at helping those unfamiliar with these to understand what they are, it is still a long stretch to get there and fully understand the hidden meanings. In the end, the book doesn't leave you feeling like you fully understood what has hap ...more
Sep 27, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, jewish
Read my review on New York Journal of Books.
Oct 07, 2014 Meruna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A könyvet ajándékba kaptam, némi instrukcióval ellátva, olvashatom előbb az egyik, majd a másik sztorit, vagy fejezetenként váltogatva. Én az utóbbi metódust követtem és nem bántam meg, szerintem így volt a legélvezetesebb! Izgalmas sztori volt végig, én teljesen másra számítottam végkifejlet gyanánt, de így is tetszett. Pici bepillantást nyerhettek a zsidó kultúrába és vallásba, talán mélyebben, mint más könyvekben és amennyire áthatotta a vallás a sztorit végül annyira nem volt köze az egészhe ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Fruchtfleisch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
Ein Wendebuch. Kann man von einer Seite beginnen oder das Buch drehen und wenden und von der anderen Seite beginnen. In der Mitte treffen beide Handlungsstränge dann aufeinander. Soviel zum leicht Beschreibbaren. Da könnte man noch erwähnen, dass dieses Buch sehr raumschindend gesetzt ist, für Quantitätsluchse ein Genuss, weil man ständig blättern kann.
Inhaltlich widmet sich der eine Erzählstrang einem Autor, der meint, noch nie ein wirkliches Buch geschrieben zu haben. Eines Tages erreicht ihn
Jul 23, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
I received this as a Goodreads giveaway. The plot is loosely fictionalized around the real life of Binjamin Wilkomirski--a man who wrote a Holocaust memoir but was later discovered to be a fraud. The main characters of The Canvas are the two important people in Wilkomiriski's life (in this book, his name is Minsky): his therapist, Amnon Zichroni, and the writer, Jan Wechsler, who exposed him as a liar.

The real story alone is enough to get me hooked on this book, but the fictionalized version by
Apr 01, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that can't be described in much detail without spoiling it for others. I'll leave that to die Blurbmeister. Suffice it to say that the writing is limpid and the pace is just right for the sort of suspense the author weaves.

Yes, it treats a wide range of subjects and psychical realities (by turns psychological, religious, and/or mystical) and impinges on many matters of the horrorshow of 20th century history. That said, it's not exactly sprawling; it takes on the terri
Literary Review The
Benjamin Stein
The Canvas

(Rochester, NY: Open Letter Books, 2012.)
Translated from German by Brian Zumhagen.

By John King

"The Canvas" was reviewed in The Literary Review
"Loss Control" Fall 2012

Because the very act of reading Benjamin Stein’s The Canvas involves metaphysical provocations, it defies any normal attempt at summarization or evaluation. I haven’t had an experience like this since I read the 1994 English translation of George Perec’s novel, A Void, which both in E
Jan 08, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the great pleasure of talking with author Benjamin Stein while he was here in the States, and that conversation was published at the Tottenville Review. I also interviewed the translator Brian Zumhagen, and wrote about the book, both found at Full-Stop.

All of which can be found here:

From my talk with author Benjamin Stein:


I think American readers have a very difficult relationship to this question. We are as a people largely attracted to the me
Review of The Canvas published in The L Magazine:

(Full text of the review below.)


“No one knows better than I that the boundary between reality and fiction in every story runs meanderingly through the middle of language, concealed and incomprehensible—and movable.”

This observation, made by one of The Canvas’s two increasingly unreliable narrators, is easily applied to the novel itself, a sophisticated Choose Your Own Adventure that’s not only a complex
Jul 10, 2015 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel very ...confused...after reading this. it was a great read throughout. I chose to read it alternating narratives, which in hindsight seems to be the best way to read it...though maybe starting with ammon z. would be okay as well. I do not think I would have read the second half if I started with jan. maybe out of obligation I may have...who knows.

quasi SPOILER:

I wish I had figured out why/how Jan became the way he is. that's what makes me be unsatisfied with the ending and left me confuse
Jan 15, 2016 Herb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translation, 2012, male, crime
I liked this book very well and the interaction between the two unreliable narratives end up in a nicely subdued yet unresolvably contradictory finale. However I think the packaging & marketing makes too much of how the common binding of the two contrasting narratives can be experienced in a variety of reading orders.

I did read the book by alternating chapters between the two tales, but it didn't really add much until the very end. There is a little interrelated imagery that echoes between
Nov 14, 2012 Will rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Will by: Chad Post
So I chose to read this book by flipping between the two stories on alternating chapters, starting with Jan Wechsler, then flipping to Amnon Zichroni, and then back and forth. It was enrapturing to read this way. Some people may hate the "gimmick" of two separate texts that start from opposite and flipped points of the same book, but I don't care, it's not hard to do, and it's fun as hell. And the best part is that this book IS a bit of a thriller, like the flaps warned! I wasn't expecting that! ...more
Jean Konieczny
Jul 28, 2012 Jean Konieczny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won-books
This book is crazy! First of all, I had never heard of Benjamin Wilkomirski, and I was slightly appalled when I found out he was a fraud that wrote a fake holocast memoir.

After I started reading a little I had to look up the story and see what happened... such an interesting subject.

The way that Mr. Stein wrote the book... two characters, flip it over and read the story from the other side... amazing. I actually kept going back and forth between the two when I was originally deciding which side
Mar 25, 2016 NikolayM rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Alla är döda och jag är ensam kvar.'
Jul 14, 2012 Daleine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I received this as a goodreads book. I only read parts of it. It has a lot of Judaism in it and for someone who knows Yidish or Hebrew it might be more interesting. My problem is that I do not know what a lot of the words are and so do not understand much of what I was reading. I was lot through much of the boo,.
Feb 05, 2015 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: läst-2015
Hittade denna på nyhetshyllan på mitt bibliotek och lånade den enkom för att jag blev nyfiken på att läsa på ett annorlunda sätt. Jag valde att läsa vartannat kapitel och såhär i efterhand är jag glad att jag valde att göra så. Spännande.
Jun 02, 2013 Vincent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ideal manner of reading this book might be by flipping narratives every other chapter, though I started with Wechsler and finished with Zichroni. But everything comes together in the end, or, er, the middle.

Nov 06, 2012 Dbbooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent translation to English by Brian Zumhagen and published by Open Letter, the book that can be read from either end is unique and a fun read.
Sep 18, 2013 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So interesting. As a dedicated Ebook lover, I pedaled backwards and read this as a paper book due to the unique format.
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