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Between Sky & Sea

Between Sky & Sea

Text Classics

Herz Bergner

  • awardAustralian Society of Literature’s Gold Medal for Book of the Year, 1948
  • Translated by Judah Waten
    Introduction by Arnold Zable

    A group of Jewish refugees are thrown together on board a dilapidated freighter charting a course for Australia. Fleeing terrible scenes of destruction in Europe, they are bound by a deep sense of loss and the uncertainty of their fate.

    As the ship lists, inner conflicts burst to the surface and romance, revenge, guilt and desperation fill the craft. There’s poignancy, drama and an abiding strength of humanity as the passengers’ lives play out in this unbearable hinterland between sky and sea.

    Now, seventy years since its publication in 1946, Between Sky & Sea cements its place as a major Australian major work of diaspora fiction.

    Arnold Zable’s introduction highlights the chilling parallels between Bergner’s tale and the sinking of the SIEV X off the Australian coast, giving the reader pause to reflect on the continuing plight of asylum seekers throughout history and across the globe.

    Read Arnold Zable’s excellent introduction on the Text blog.

    Herz Bergner
    About the Author

    Herz Bergner was born in Poland in 1907 and migrated to Australia with his wife in 1938. His first book, The New House, published in 1941, was a collection of short stories about immigrants adapting to life in a new land. Between Sky and Sea was translated from Yiddish into English by Australian Jewish novelist Judah Waten, and published in 1946...

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    About the Translator
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    Arnold Zable
    About the Introducer

    Arnold Zable is a highly acclaimed novelist, storyteller and human rights advocate. His works include Cafe Scheherazade, Scraps of Heaven, Violin Lessons and The Fighter, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award. Zable lives in Melbourne.

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    Text publication date:
    30 May 2016
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    Praise for Herz Bergner
    andBetween Sky & Sea

    ‘This novel, resurrected from its foreign country of the past, might stand as an epitaph for the 353 men, women and children drowned in 2001 when the SIEV X sank while trying to reach Australia. At the very least, Between Sky & Sea should be required reading for refugee policymakers today.’

    ‘Beautifully written with extraordinary insight into the frailties of humanity, Bergner’s tale is as much a version of the past as it is a vision of our present…We can only hope that publishers such as Text continue to salvage the treasury of migrant literature that is no longer in print.’

    ‘Bergner’s astute observation of life shows in his sharp psychological dissection of this human cargo and his unflinching assessment of people’s flaws…Bergner writes with such compassion that a reader becomes infected by his characters’ yearnings.’

    ‘There’s poignancy, drama and an abiding strength of humanity in this story.’

    ‘This beautifully written story will resonate with readers with its universal theme of emigration and its particular topicality today. Perhaps this book should be required reading for refugee policymakers?’

    Other editions ofBetween Sky & Sea