GLLI Translated YA Book Prize Shortlist: Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali (France)

Nazi Germany. 1936.

In the Lebensborn program, carefully selected German women are recruited by the Nazis to give birth to new members of the Aryan race. Inside one of these women is Max, literally counting the minutes until he is born and he can fulfill his destiny as the perfect Aryan specimen.

Max is taken away from his birth mother soon after he enters the world. Raised under the ideology and direction of the Nazi Party, he grows up without any family, without any affection or tenderness, and he soon becomes the mascot of the program. That is until he meets Lukas, a young Jewish boy whom he knows he is meant to despise. Instead, the friendship that blossoms changes Max’s world forever.

Translated from the original French, Sarah Cohen-Scali brings the details of the Lebensborn program to light in this haunting and heartbreaking novel.

Sarah Cohen-Scali has written many novels and short stories for young readers. Her young adult novel Max, first published in France, has won several awards including the prestigious Prix Sorcières 2013. Sarah lives in Paris with her family.

Penny Hueston is a Senior Editor at Text Publishing and a translator of numerous stories, articles and poems, including works by Marie Darrieussecq and 2014 Nobel Prize winner, Patrick Modiano. Her latest translation is the compelling novel, Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali.


A mature, provocative perspective on a harrowing history, the effects of which reverberate today.”—School Library Journal

‘The narrator here is already a committed Nazi in the womb; as a foetus, Max clings on so that he can be born on the Fuhrer’s birthday. As he relates his life up to the age of nine, he sheds light on the appalling system of Lebensborn, where Aryan women were encouraged to breed with SS soldiers. But that’s not all – the children of conquered countries, if they’re racially pure enough, are forcibly removed from their parents and sent to brutal academies to be ‘Germanised’. For Max, his only hope of redemption is a growing friendship with seemingly Aryan, but actually Jewish, Lukas. Although he despises Max, Lukas sees him primarily as a victim of indoctrination and abuse. Amnesty International endorses this book, and it’s not hard to see why.’ Financial Times

“Unforgettable, bizarre, and brilliant.”—Booklist, starred review

Sarah Cohen-Scali
Translated from the French by Penny Hueston
2016, Walker Books (UK); 2017, Roaring Brook Press (US)
ISBN: 9781406368253 (UK); 9781626720718 (US)


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