Ruth Maier’s Diary

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Ruth Maier’s Diary
Translated from Norwegian by Jamie Bulloch
Published by Harvill and Secker, March 2009

This remarkable diary is a lucid, prescient and highly intelligent account of Ruth Maier’s experience of oppression, and above all, it conveys her overwhelming urge to write. From an astonishingly young age, she demonstrates huge self awareness, wishing to write novels, diaries, but always questioning this desire, intent on producing something that will endure. Ruth was killed before she could achieve her goals, but her deft handling of themes as diverse as isolation, identity, sexuality, friendship, morality, justice and sacrifice suggest that she could have been anything she wished to be. Her diary is a testament to the author she could have become.


Ruth Maier was born into a middle-class Jewish family in interwar Vienna. Following the Anschluss of Austria in March 1938, the world of the substantial Viennese Jewish community crumbled. In early 1939, her sister having left for England, Ruth emigrated to Norway and lived with a family in Lillestrøm, about thirty miles from Oslo. Norway itself became a Nazi conquest in April 1940, and Ruth was deported to Auschwitz in November 1942, where she was killed on arrival, aged only twenty-two. Ruth’s close friend, the Norwegian poet Gunvor Hofmo kept her diaries and much of her correspondence. After Hofmo’s death in 1995, Jan Erik Vold went through her papers and found Ruth’s diaries. After editing them for ten years, they were published in Norway in 2007.

Jamie Bulloch is an experienced literary translator and academic, specialising in the history of Austria and the Holocaust, which is the subject of his PhD. He lives in London.


Ruth Maier’s Diary was promoted at Foyles, on 3 March. Eva Hoffman and Jan Erik Vold, the Norwegian editor of the book, talked about Ruth’s writing and the story of how the manuscript was preserved since the WW2 by her closest friend Gunvor Hofmo.


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