Award-winning author Anna Funder delivers an affecting and beautifully evocative debut novel about a group of young German exiles who risk their lives to awaken the world to the terrifying threat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. Based on real-life events and people, All That I Am brings to light the heroic, tragic, and true story of a small group of left-wing German social activists who mounted a fierce and cunning resistance from their perilous London exile, in a novel that fans of Suite Francaise, The Piano Teacher, and Atonement will find irresistible and unforgettable.
“An intimate exploration of human connection and our responsibility to one another.” —Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
Funder follows the success of Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall with a debut novel "reconstructed from fossil fragments, much as you might draw skin and feathers over an assembly of dinosaur bones, to fully see the beast." Ruth Becker glimpses that beast outside her Berlin apartment in 1933, as her showy journalist husband, Hans, makes mojitos on the day that Hitler is appointed chancellor of Germany. The heart of the novel, however, belongs to Ruth's cousin Dora Fabian, leftist agitator, doomed idealist, and soul mate of playwright Ernst Toller. Ruth helps Dora hide Ernst's writings as the Reichstag burns, and she flees with Hans the next day after being questioned about her Communist affiliations. Outside Germany, she works tirelessly for the cause, bringing Nazi preparations for war to the attention of the British. But her relationship with Hans, whose secret activities endanger everyone, crumbles. As the Holocaust begins, Ernst, in New York, relates Dora's role in his life to a typist whose document reaches Ruth in Australia almost 60 years later. By alternating between Ernst and Ruth, Funder leaps through time with alacrity. She adds an integral perspective on a shopworn subject by invoking the lives of Nazi dissidents whose attempts to alert the world to the growing menace were ignored until it was too late.