Elisabeth de Waal was born in Vienna in 1899. She studied philosophy, law, and economics at the University of Vienna, and completed her doctorate in 1923. She also wrote poems (often corresponding with Rilke), and was a Rockefeller Foundation fellow at Columbia. She wrote five unpublished novels, two in German and three in English, including The Exiles Return in the late 1950s. She died in 1991.
"[The Exiles Return] has an immediacy that makes de Waal's readers feel the experiences of its characters in a visceral way." --The New York Times Book Review"With the publication, after all these years, of The Exiles Return, we are allowed to hear a voice that has not only endured but, by the subtlety and fervor of its free expression, triumphed." --Andrew Ervin, The New York Times Book Review"A masterpiece of European literature." --The Buffalo News"[The Exiles Return] succeeds magnificiently on its own uncompromising terms . . . And in holding up a uniquely wrought mirror to [de Waal's] Vienna." --San Francisco Chronicle"Elisabeth de Waal has assembled an unusual tableau--evocative and altogether memorable . . . Here's hoping that The Exiles Return will now find the American audience that it deserves." --Erika Dreifus, The Washington Post"There is a distinctly fin de si cle feel to Elisabeth de Waal's rediscovered novel about Viennese exiles, banished by war, streaming back to their native city in the mid-1950s. The Exiles Return captures the atmosphere of post-World War II Vienna, with its crumbling buildings, decaying aristocracy, mercantile fervor and ideological denial. But its restrained prose style and preoccupation with the gap between public morality and private behavior evoke even more strongly the novels of Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Gustave Flaubert, Leo Tolstoy and other 19th-century masters . . . The Exiles Return is both an oddity and the bittersweet legacy of a gifted writer, melding the narrative pleasures of fiction with a vivid historical snapshot." --Chicago Tribune"The Exiles Return is, in a sense, a reverie about what it meant to return to postwar Vienna; a dream turned nightmare of a family wanting to recoup its wartime losses . . . The Exiles Return, a novel of five exiles returning home after fleeing Hitler, is a masterpiece of European literature." --The Buffalo News"[An] incisive, and tragic tale of bombarded and morally decimated postwar Vienna . . . De Waal's acid, eyewitness drama of malignant prejudice, innocence betrayed, the disintegration of the old order, and love transcendent has the same jolting immediacy as the novels of Irene Nemirovsky as well as deeply archetypal dimensions." --Booklist"Like Ir ne N mirovsky and Hans Keilson, de Waal bore witness to the tragedy of World War II; as her grandson recounts in his best-selling The Hare with Amber Eyes, their Jewish banking family's possessions were appropriated by the Germans when they marched in Austria . . . Expect poignancy and an indelible sense of the time." --Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Barbara's Picks)"An elegant, unpublished novel . . . This novel reveals [de Waal's] intelligence and articulateness as it evokes 1950s Vienna, haunted by the ghosts of its distant and more recent pasts . . . Restrained yet incisive, this finely observed novel lacks a resounding conclusion but nevertheless offers European mood music of a particular and beguiling resonance." --Kirkus Reviews"This is a rewarding study of loss, and a fine snapshot of a city and society standing ravaged at a crossroads." --The Guardian (London)"[Elisabeth de Waal] captures the fragility of a city trying to rebuild itself on uncertain foundations . . . It is an important story and now, at last, it has been told." --The Spectator (London)"The Exiles Return is a novel of great vividness and great tenderness, which at its heart depicts what it might mean to return from exile. Within its pages it reflects a truly ambitious writer and a woman of considerable courage." --from Edmund de Waal's Foreword