Crossing Borders

Martin Pollack:

Martin Pollack was born in Bad Hall in the Austrian state of Upper Austria in 1944, and studied Slavonic studies and Eastern European history. He worked as an editor for Spiegel magazine in Vienna and Warsaw until 1998. Since then, he has worked as a freelance author, journalist, and translator. In 2007 he was honored for his translations from Polish into German, receiving the Karl Dedecius Prize. Pollack has also received numerous other awards and prizes, including the “Angelus” Polish literature prize in 2007, and the Georg Dehio Prize in 2010 for his depiction of the joint history shared by Germany and its Eastern neighbors.
Kaiser von Amerika (Emperor of America)

Around the year 1900, the alluring sight of the Statue of Liberty encouraged hundreds of thousands of Europeans to leave their homes and make the journey across the ocean. The same was true in Galicia (today part of Poland and the Ukraine), the poorhouse of the Habsburg Empire, which also saw a wave of emigration around this time. Peasants, artisans, Jewish “luftmenschen” - they all left in search of a better future; the Emperor of America, they thought, would welcome them with open arms upon their arrival. This sense of hope gave rise to a profitable business from which many different groups of people profited. A story of people smugglers, agents, slave traders, and the prospect of a better life: Martin Pollack tells the tale of the people who sought their fortune in America at the turn of the twentieth century.

Novel
Zsolnay (September 6, 2010)
Hardback, 280 pages
ISBN-13: 978-3552055148

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Martin Pollack travelled to Poland for five weeks and the Ukraine for four weeks in 2006 and 2007, in search of a wide variety of archives and libraries, as well as remote villages to conduct interviews with contemporary witnesses. This is how he describes his research:

“Similar to all my books, reading old newspapers was an important part of my research for Kaiser von Amerika. They are an irreplaceable treasure trove of stories about peoples’ destinies. I also found a lot of material in the archives in Krakow, Lviv, and Vienna. I find researching in archives and reading newspapers incredibly exciting, and sometimes I feel almost upset when I finish my research and need to sit down and start writing.”