Go, Went, Gone

Jenny Erpenbeck

Published: 2 August 2018
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781846276224

Other Editions


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Published: 7 September 2017
Hardback, Demy HB
138x216mm, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781846276200

Ebook Available


One of the great contemporary European writers takes on Europe's biggest issue

Richard has spent his life as a university professor, immersed in the world of books and ideas, but now he is retired, his books remain in their packing boxes and he steps into the streets of his city, Berlin. Here, on Oranienplatz, he discovers a new community -- a tent city, established by African asylum seekers. Hesitantly, getting to know the new arrivals, Richard finds his life changing, as he begins to question his own sense of belonging in a city that once divided its citizens into them and us.

At once a passionate contribution to the debate on race, privilege and nationality and a beautifully written examination of an ageing man's quest to find meaning in his life, Go, Went, Gone showcases one of the great contemporary European writers at the height of her powers.

About the author

Image of Jenny Erpenbeck

Jenny Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. She has worked on opera and musical productions and her fiction has been translated worldwide. She is the author of The Old Child & The Book of Words, and Visitation. More about the author


‘[In] this wise, moving novel [...] Erpenbeck demands that her fellow countrymen show compassion to those whose lives have been "cut off, as if with a knife"'’ Paul Connolly



Europe's outstanding literary seer, Jenny Erpenbeck's new novel resonates with an unexpected simplicity that is profound, unsettling and subtle. Astutely translated by Susan Bernofsky [...] Erpenbeck's powerful tale, delivered in a wonderfully plain, candid tone, is both real and true. It will alert readers, make us more aware and, it is to be hoped, more humanEileen Battersby

Very movingCarol Morley

‘A remarkable novel which questions our understanding of borders and identity and which calls above all for compassion’ Annie Rutherford

‘Acclaimed novelist Jenny Erpenbeck has gone further than most in examining the ephemeral nature of human life... An immensely ambitious novel, tackling a wide, complex range of themes, it is about the arbitrariness of borders, both literal and metaphorical, and the notion of foreignness as opposed to belonging. It is about the complex nature of comprehension and compassion, and the places genuine empathy between foreign bodies might be achieved... It is also a clarion call, a righteous protest against dehumanising government systems [...] Ultimately Erpenbeck - wise, caring and profound - triumphs in this heart-rending plea for universal tolerance and respect’ Jane Graham

‘At once urgent and contemporary [...] the brilliant German novelist, Jenny Erpenbeck, has taken on the churn of the great issues of refugees, illegal immigration and asylum in her latest novel, Go, Went, Gone and created something profound, beautiful and deeply affecting... It is a mark of Erpenbeck's compassion and her complex, nuanced understanding of the human motivations of sympathy that she can make [a] (white, liberal) weakness of Richard a tender, even humorous seam in her book... [An] extraordinary novel, bearing unflinching testament to history as it unfolds’ Neel Mukherjee

‘Erpenbeck is becoming one of Europe's most highly regarded writers, perpetually striving to create an artistic prism through which to interpret history's arc... Superbly translated by her usual collaborator Susan Bernofsky [...] there is a melancholic undertone to the novel, murmuring beneath its condensed, liquid prose. Deceptively unhurried, yet undeniably urgent, this is Erpenbeck's most significant work to dateCatherine Taylor

‘Jenny Erpenbeck shows us that we are involved already, whether we want to be or not’ Maren Meinhardt

‘Not only timely but masterfulMichael Pollan

‘Susan Bernofsky's finely crafted translation [...] reaches Anglophone readers at an opportune moment... Erpenbeck binds the upheavals of past and present, Europe and Africa. Lyrical and satirical by turns, she shows that fearful isolation, emotional or political, hurts wall-builders and wall-jumpers alike’

‘Vital... [Erpenbeck] is asking a compelling and timely question’ Sally Rooney

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