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Paul Celan was born in Bukowina, Romania, in 1920. His parents died at the hands of the German army in 1942. He escaped, survived a period in a labor camp, and eventually settled in Paris where he taught and wrote. He received the Buchner Prize, Germany's most prestigious literary award, before he died by suicide in 1970.
"The slimness of the book tells its own story of Celan's love affair with silence . . . [Waldrop's English] has an idiomatic adroitness that catches the pauses and suspensions in Celan's breath [and] directs us to a sense of a more reserved, hidden-hearted poet." --Choice
"Celan pushes language to the limits of expressiveness in these groping, incantatory pieces."--Publisher's Weekly