Friday 19 January 2018

The Next Big Thing: Dispossession

...their new cramped quarters.
Anita Brookner, The Next Big Thing, ch. 3

Dispossession - 'translation' from one home to another lesser home - is a major theme from the beginning. As in Latecomers, the Holocaust - ghettoisation - isn't directly referenced, but nevertheless is present throughout, Brookner's reticence and subtlety only serving to intensify the Herzes' despair. The Next Big Thing, like Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, is about the decline of a family, and there are sundry other comparisons to be drawn in this most literary of Brooknerian openers. Published the previous year, W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz is possibly an influence. Reading of Herz and his family in Hilltop Road and later in their inferior flat above the shop in the Edgware Road, one thinks of Austerlitz in Bloomsbury:

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