The White Cities | Granta

  • Published: 01/08/2013
  • ISBN: 9781847086204
  • 129x20mm
  • 304 pages

The White Cities

Joseph Roth

Translated by Michael Hofmann

Joseph Roth, the greatest European newspaper correspondent of his age, left the splintering Weimar Republic for Paris in 1925 and, as an Austrian Jew, was exiled there for the rest of his life. Collected together here for the first time in English, these exhilarating pieces evoke a world of suppleness, beauty and promise. From the port town of Marseilles to the Riviera of Nice and Monte Carlo, to the exotic hill country around Avignon, from the socialist workers and cattlemen with whom Roth ate breakfast, to prostitutes and Sunday bullfighters, The White Cities is not only a swan song to a European order that could no longer hold but also a beautifully crafted and revelatory work.

The White Cities is superb


Roth was a supreme observer, a cynical romantic with a flair for prophecy and an understanding of the slow fester of moral outrage... His commentaries are political and cultural bulletins of the time... it is a privilege to see an artist at work - and an artist he was - but also to experience a witness watching history as a living process

Irish Times

Nearly every piece contains an animated, poetic sympathy for the underclass - from Marseille fisherman to factory workers in Lyon. The early portraits in particular sing with exuberance, yet as the shadow of war falls again across Europe, so the consequences for Roth as a liberal-minded Jew become tragically evident


The Author

Joseph Roth (1894-1939) was the great elegist of the cosmopolitan, tolerant and doomed Central European culture that flourished in the dying days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Born into a Jewish family in Galicia, on the eastern edge of the empire, he was a prolific political journalist and novelist. On Hitler’s assumption of power, he was obliged to leave Germany for Paris, where he died in poverty a few years later. His books include What I Saw, Job, The White Cities, The String of Pearls, The Emperor’s Tomb and The Radetzky March, all published by Granta Books.

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The Translator

Michael Hofmann is a poet, translator and critic. His latest book of poems is One Lark, One Horse. He recently translated Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel Kairos.

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From the Same Author

Joseph Roth on

Essays & Memoir | Granta 129

Where the World War Began

Joseph Roth