The Glass Room

Published in Britain by Little, Brown, January 2009 and in the US by the Other Press, October 2009

 

High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a marvel of steel and glass and onyx. Built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile, it is one of the wonders of modernist architecture. But the radiant honesty and idealism of 1930 that the house seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of World War Two gather. Eventually, as Nazi troops enter the country, the family, accompanied by Viktor’s lover Kata and her child Marika, must flee.

Yet the family’s exile does not signify the end of this spectacular building. It slips from hand to hand, from Czech to Nazi to Soviet and finally back to the Czechoslovak state, the crystalline perfection of the Glass Room always exerting a gravitational pull on those who know it. It becomes a laboratory, a shelter from the storm of war, and a place where the broken and the ruined find some kind of comfort, until with the collapse of Communism, the Landauers are finally drawn back to where their story began.

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The Glass Room, 2009

"...a thing of extraordinary beauty and symmetry." The Guardian

Simon Mawer 2008 - 2011. This website is written and maintained by the author.