5 Remark books you want to read now

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod, nnstories.ru, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
"When we used to read Remarque, we didn't understand why everyone there was always suffering and drinking whiskey. And now how we understand!"
This is the kind of meme that has been actively gaining momentum on social networks since February 2022. Along with Dovlatov, Erich Maria Remarque is probably now the most popular writer. Although, you have to hand it to him, he has always been popular because of his lighthearted style of storytelling.

I read Remarque back in high school, returning to him periodically throughout my life. I will now share what I have read from him, and what I would advise you to read now.

"Three Comrades."

The book that opened for me Remarque. The story of love and friendship against the backdrop of the crisis of Weimar Germany, the action takes place in 1928-1929 and shows all the horror and complexity of postwar life.

But despite the abundance of death, it is a novel about life and the thirst to go forward. It is in it that this line of a sickly beloved girl and a sad protagonist is very clearly seen, which then swings from novel to novel by Remarque.


"Spark of Life."

The story of the survival in a Jewish camp of a man who had a number instead of a name. I remember clearly reading this book when I was taking my USE. And one day I was sitting in the auditorium looking at the clock, where the minute hand was approaching us to give out the math exam sheets, or something.

And very vividly I was reminded of that moment in the book where the main character is looking at the same hand that brings him closer to death, which is 5 minutes away. Then I realized very clearly that there are worse things in life than the math test.

"A Time to Live and a Time to Die."

And this is an absolutely amazing book that "caught up" with me at university. It uses the technique of "circular composition," where at the beginning and the end a German soldier talks about the war, and in the middle he goes home on leave, where the time to live, love, and just be human begins.

And this is where I realized for the first time that the German soldiers were also people who had different emotions and, it turns out, often didn't even understand what they were supposed to be fighting for.


"All quiet on the Western Front."

I read it on my way to Vietnam in early 2020.

The story is about a young guy in the middle of a positional war in 1917: that's when the hostilities are still going on, but both opponents are not moving anywhere, but sit each in their trenches for weeks and months.

By the way, the atmosphere of this book is very similar to the movie 1917. Of course, a great many nuances of the horrors and inconveniences of military life, which you have not even thought about, are revealed here.

"The Night in Lisbon."

Finished it the other day. A novel about emigration, its difficulties, and the desire to be with my beloved no matter what. All Night in Lisbon is the story of a sad emigrant journalist about his life after he made the decision to return to Nazi Germany in 1939 to meet his wife.

And so it's 1943, and he tells what eventually happened to them and how it all ended. As with everything by Remarque - sad, poignant, easy to read and gives food for thought.

Now I've started Arc de Triomphe, followed by Love thy Neighbor, and will probably take a break to open some of his novels next time. Maybe I'll move on to other writers of the Lost Generation. I'll write about what that generation is in a future article.
Remark is unique in that he experienced both World War I and World War II, and the time in between, while being German and definitely holding anti-fascist views. That's probably why his popularity has increased so much now.

What have you read of Remark or do you plan to read?