It is customary now to quote Susan Sontag when praising W.G. Sebald, but perhaps the earliest and most prescient notice of Sebald’s promise came from Gabriel Josipovici, the British novelist, playwright, and critic.
And we can feel fortunate that critics of Josipovici’s caliber were around to take note of this author before he was a common commodity.
Interesting, too that Sontag is commonly blurbed in conjunction with Sebald since she’s also often blurbed in conjunction with Walser. Though in the latter case she has a little more claim in the matter–Susan Bernofsky once informed me that Sontag had caught wind of Walser in the ’80s, long before much of his stuff was in English, and certainly long before English-reading critics began to celebrate him.
And here’s a great a moment from the annals of book reviewing:
I have spent so long describing what is only a twenty-page story because it is not every day one is sent a masterpiece to review (I suppose one is lucky if it happens more than once or twice a lifetime). And this story is what it is because, like all good art, the form and the style bring into being what would otherwise have remained in darkness and silence for ever, so that a mere account of what the story was ‘about’ would not have begun to do it justice.