Cover of Vicki Baum, Basil Creighton (TRN), Margot Bettauer Dembo (EDT), Noah Isenberg (INT): Grand Hotel

Vicki Baum, Basil Creighton (TRN), Margot Bettauer Dembo (EDT), Noah Isenberg (INT) Grand Hotel

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Book information

New York Review of Books










Hotels; Germany; Berlin; Fiction.


A grand hotel in the center of 1920s Berlin serves as a microcosm of the modern world in this celebrated novel which was the basis for the 1932 Oscar-winning film starring Greta Garbo and John Barrymore The luxury Grand Hotel is a revolving door for the stray souls of 1920s Berlin. Among the guests is Doctor Otternschlag, a World War I veteran whose face has been sliced in half by a shell. Day after day he emerges to read the paper in the lobby, discreetly inquiring at the desk if the letter he’s been awaiting for years has arrived. Then there is Grusinskaya, a great ballerina now fighting a losing battle not so much against age as against her fear of it, who may or may not be made for Gaigern, a sleek professional thief. Herr Preysing also checks in, the director of a family firm that isn’t as flourishing as it appears, who would never imagine that Kringelein, his underling, a timorous petty clerk he’s bullied for years, has also come to Berlin, determined to live at last now that he’s received a medical death sentence. All these characters and more, with all their secrets and aspirations, come together and come alive in the pages of Baum’s delicious and disturbing masterpiece—a Weimar-era bestseller that retains all its verve and luster today.

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