Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Burkhard Bilger

May 18, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Magic City Books is proud to welcome Oklahoma native and New Yorker staff writer Burkhard Bilger for an in person event to celebrate his new memoir, Fatherland: A Memoir of War, Conscience, and Family Secrets on Thursday May 18 at 7:00 pm. This free event will be held at The Synagogue|Congregation B’nai Emunah, 1719 S Owasso Avenue.

“Burkhard Bilger has long been one of our great storytellers: an acute observer, an intrepid reporter, and a writer of unmatched grace. Now he has brought these gifts to his own family story, rummaging through the past to unearth long-kept secrets and to shed light on the nature of war and complicity. Fatherland is that rare book–a finely etched memoir with the powerful sweep of history.” –David Grann, author of Killers of the Flower Moon

Burkhard Bilger will be joined in conversation by Tulsa Literary Coalition Board Member, Dr. John Schumann and following their conversation, will sign copies of his books.

Fatherland will be published by Random House on May 2, 2023. It will be on sale at Magic City Books and at the event on May 18. You can order a copy online to have signed and shipped to you. Books will ship out starting May 19. https://magiccitybooks.square.site/product/fatherland/1172

About Fatherland

As a boy growing up in Oklahoma, Burkhard Bilger often heard his parents tell stories about the Germany of their youth. Winters in the Black Forest, when the snow piled up to the eaves and haunches of smoked speck hung from the rafters. Springtime along the Rhine, when the storks came home to nest on rooftops. His parents were born in 1935 and had lived through the Second World War, but those stories, vivid as they were, had strange omissions. His mother was a historian, yet she rarely talked about her father’s relationship to the Nazis, or his role in the war. Then one day a packet of letters arrived from Germany, yellowed with age, and a secret history began to unfold.

Karl Gönner was an elementary school teacher and father of four when the war began. In 1940, he was posted to a village in Alsace, in occupied France, and ordered to reeducate its children–to turn them into proper Germans. He was a loyal Nazi when he arrived, but as the war went on his allegiance wavered. According to some villagers, he risked his life shielding them from his own party’s brutalities. According to others, he ruled the village with an iron fist. After the war, Gönner was charged with giving an order that led police to beat a local farmer to death. Was he guilty or innocent? A war criminal or just an ordinary man, struggling to do right from within a monstrous regime?

Fatherland is the story of Bilger’s nearly ten-year quest to uncover the truth. It is a book of gripping suspense and moral inquiry–a tale of chance encounters and serendipitous discoveries in archives and villages across Germany and France. Long admired for his profiles in The New Yorker, Bilger brings the same open-hearted curiosity to his grandfather’s story and the questions it raises. What do we owe the past? How can we make peace with it without perpetuating its wrongs? Intimate and far-reaching, Fatherland is an extraordinary odyssey through the great upheavals of the past century.

Burkhard Bilger has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2001. His work has appeared in TheAtlantic, Harper’s, and The New York Times, among other publications, and has been anthologized ten times in the Best American series. Bilger has received fellowships from Yale University, MacDowell, and the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. His first book, Noodling for Flatheads, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Jennifer Nelson.


May 18, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Magic City Books


Congregation B’nai Emunah
1719 S. Owasso Ave.
Tulsa, 74120 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website