When, in the mid 1990s, The Reader was first published it was an instant, enormous success. Translated into thirty-nine languages, it won international literary prizes and was selected as an Oprah Book Club choice. In England alone, it sold 350,000 copies. Its author, Bernhard Schlink, was a professor of the history of law, a judge of the constitutional court of North-Rhine Westphalia, and already the author of three detective novels.
But it was The Reader, the tale of a young boy’s affair with a woman in her thirties who suddenly disappears but whom he meets again as a law student during a war crimes trial, that touched the imagination of a generation wondering how to deal with the aftermath of