Broadcaster, filmmaker and writer Dennis Marks talks to literalab about his recently published book Wandering Jew: The Search for Joseph Roth, in which he follows the geographical trail of the constantly moving writer from his roots in Brody, Ukraine through other outposts of the multicultural Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Literalab: What gave you the idea for looking for Roth in the places where he grew up?
Dennis Marks: I first read The Radetsky March while researching a film with the writer Michael Frayn about Vienna and the Habsburg Empire at the turn of the last century. I was haunted for years by Roth’s portrait of the dusty edge of empire observed through the wrong end of a telescope. After the fall of the Berlin Wall I took the opportunity to visit some of its remoter corners – in the Czech lands, Hungary and eventually Western Ukraine. By this time I had left television and was General Director of English National Opera. During the summer break I made my first visit to Roth’s birthplace in Galicia. It was like walking through a looking glass into a world that had been frozen throughout half a century of socialist amnesia.