Twenty years in the making, this sweeping masterpiece charts Berlin through the rise of Nazism.
During the past two decades, Jason Lutes has quietly created one of the masterworks of the graphic novel golden age. Berlin is one of the high-water marks of the medium: rich in its well-researched historical detail, compassionate in its character studies, and as timely as ever in its depiction of a society slowly awakening to the stranglehold of fascism.
Berlin is an intricate look at the fall of the Weimar Republic through the eyes of its citizens – Marthe Müller, a young woman escaping the memory of a brother killed in World War I, Kurt Severing, an idealistic journalist losing faith in the printed word as fascism and extremism take hold; the Brauns, a family torn apart by poverty and politics. Lutes weaves these characters’ lives into the larger fabric of a city slowly ripping apart.
The city itself is the central protagonist in this historical fiction. Lavish salons, crumbling sidewalks, dusty attics, and train stations: all these places come alive in Lutes’ masterful hand. Weimar Berlin was the world’s metropolis, where intellectualism, creativity, and sensuous liberal values thrived, and Lutes maps its tragic, inevitable decline. Devastatingly relevant and beautifully told, Berlin is one of the great epics of the comics medium.
Praise for Berlin
As our own era darkens, an epic sticks the landing and finds a relevance it could never have imagined at its inception. …Lutes, with his nano-thin lines and perfectly rendered faces, was always trying to send us an urgent message: All that is good is only supported by all that is kind. Vulture
“Recommend” isn’t a strong enough verb for conveying how badly you need to read Berlin – The stories that play out between those two bookends sway from the romantic to the apocalyptic and back again, and the intricate linework and oft-mind-blowing layouts are incomparable. For a reader who’s white-knuckling it through our present period of social collapse, Berlin is a beacon of both warning and hope. Abraham Riesman, Vulture
It is no exaggeration to say it’s a masterpiece of its medium, with that depth of subtle storytelling that comics do best and a European-inspired style of line art that’s just beautiful. Toronto Star
Jason Lutes’ Berlin sets a new standard for graphic novels [with] a set of fictional characters from everyday life who ground the period with such intimacy and so much veracity that we feel as if we’re seeing it through new eyes, observing it so closely that we feel it directly.
David Hajdu, The Nation
As nationalism and antisemitism rise again, [Berlin offers] salutary lessons in how quickly politics can turn to poison. The Guardian
[Berlin’s] multiple story lines [mirror] the political and social situation of the time, as disparate characters careen like the nation and the world toward similarly dark ends. Lutes’s sharp, noir-influenced art snaps the sometimes murky narrative into dramatic relief, highlighting the tragedy to come. Publishers Weekly, The Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2018
If there was ever any doubt of a graphic novel’s ability to achieve a high level of storytelling, this book blows it away. Newsday
“The magic in Berlin is in the way Lutes conjures, out of old newspapers and photographs, a city so remote from him in time and space… [Berlin has] an ending so electrifying that I gasped.” New York Times Book Review
Jason Lutes’s Berlin [offers] a history of the city in a way that’s accessible and yet mind-opening. All the benefits of a good novel are here: three-dimensional characters, a dynamic plot, and a well-drawn setting. Nancy Pearl, NPR
Lutes’ black and white art is richly detailed and his grasp of plot, pacing and characterisation really brings the protagonists to vivid life. Independent
[A] magisterial graphic novel. Foreign Affairs
One of the most ambitious, important and fully-realized works of graphic literature yet created, a real masterpiece of both story and art. Rob Salkowitz, Forbes
Combining sweeping street scenes and dropping into the heads and thoughts of many of the city’s inhabitants, Berlin tells us a story we know in a way that’s new, one that allows us a fresh look at yesterday and begs comparisons with today. Boston Globe
With a keen eye for architectural detail, Lutes establishes a vivid sense of place, and he peoples it with distinctive, dynamic, and deeply human faces. The scope of the work is huge, but the expressiveness of his characters keeps the story grounded solidly in the heartbreaking human ramifications of political ideology. Sarah Hunter, Booklist
When Lutes launched his ambitious effort in 1996, he had no way of knowing how prescient and timely its story of idealistic radicals resisting violent white nationalists in the streets would be by the time he completed it. Starred Review of Berlin
With its rich sense of time and place, nuanced portrayal of individual destinies, precisely rendered imagery, and poetic expression of themes, Jason Lutes’s Berlin is
truly a masterful narrative. Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
A watershed achievement – Berlin charted new territory for the graphic novel and comics at the same time, at once a story about artists trying to make art during the rise of the Nazis in Germany, and a bildungsroman of the first order. This landmark collection returns this story to us now when we need examples of how to stay human to each other in the face of a politics that turns friends into enemies – a newly necessary book. Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night
Lutes’ mastery of his medium cannot be overstated; Berlin is a veritable compendium of cartooning techniques. His realist cityscapes are exacting, his characters’ faces uniquely expressive. Sometimes whole pages of pictures, without words, tell us everything. Pamela Polston, 7 Days VT