Written by Robert Seethaler
Translated by Charlotte Collins
Seventeen-year-old Franz Huchel leaves his village and journeys to Vienna to apprentice at a tobacco shop. There he meets Sigmund Freud, one of the regular customers. Over time, an unlikely friendship develops between the two very different men. When Franz falls desperately in love with the vaudeville dancer Anezka, he seeks advice from the renowned psychoanalyst, who admits that the female sex is as big a mystery to him as it is to Franz.
As the political and social conditions dramatically worsen with the annexation of Austria by Hitler’s Germany and the Nazis’ arrival in Vienna, Franz, Freud, and Anezka are swept into the maelstrom of events. And each has to make a big decision: to stay or to flee?
ROBERT SEETHALER is an Austrian living in Berlin. He is the bestselling author of four novels, including The Tobacconist, which has sold more than 200,000 copies in Germany, and A Whole Life, which has sold more than 100,000 copies in Germany. He also works as an actor, most recently in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth.
Charlotte Collins studied English at Cambridge University. She worked as an actor and radio journalist in both Germany and the UK before becoming a literary translator. She has also translated Robert Seethaler's A Whole Life, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, and is co-translating The Eighth Life, an award-winning novel by Nino Haratischwili.
"Seethaler writes with great lightness of how reading widely and accumulating wisdom make life richer, but also more complicated." Der Spiegel
"His unbelievable ease of writing is so pleasant." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
"Tender, quiet, gentle, poetic — a little treasure." Elke Heidenreich, SWR
"Seethaler has achieved something uncanny with this novel. He writes with unvarnished simplicity from the heart of a great calamity — but he does it with a lightness we’ve not seen since Jurek Becker’s brilliant debut novel Jacob the Liar." NZZ am Sonntag
"With this novel Robert Seethaler has created a wonderful tale of adolescence, told with great lightness and humour — but the dark rumblings of the hard times just starting in Vienna are always present in the background." kulturtipp
"For me, Seethaler is a great storyteller in the tradition of Polgar and Joseph Roth." Gerhard Polt
"I haven’t read a more beautiful book in years." SWR2 Book of the Week
"A book about friendship in difficult times and retaining one’s humanity even when scum are in power. A great novel." WDR4
"With The Tobacconist, Robert Seethaler has succeeded in writing a wholly coherent, condensed coming-of-age novel. Not a word is wasted." Die Presse
"Robert Seethaler is a great storyteller who loves his characters, and he has a wonderful sense of the dramatic which never gets out of hand." 20 Minuten
"Robert Seethaler writes about all this in a way that is understated yet captivating and very poetically powerful, stylistically confident." Junge Welt
"The Tobacconist is a stirring, affecting, extremely multi-faceted book. It’s a coming-of-age novel, a love story, a portrait of society, and although it’s a work of fiction it reads like an important contemporary document of the darkest period in Austria’s history. All this is conveyed by Robert Seethaler with such literary lightness, precision and vivid imagery that, like the protagonist himself, the reader is inevitably swept up in the maelstrom of events." ORF