—Richard Eder, The New York Times
Most writers, even good ones, write of what can be written. The very greates write of what cannot be written. I think of Akhmatova and Primo Levi, for example, and of W.G. Sebald.
—The New York Times
Sebald is a rare and elusive species, but still, he is an easy read, just as Kafka is. He is an addiction, and once buttonholed by his books, you have neither the wish nor the will to tear yourself away.
—Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
W.G. Sebald has written an astonishing masterpiece: it seems perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read. Bewitching in its subtlety, sublime in its directness and in the grandeur of its subject. The Emigrants is an irresistable book.
The Emigrants is that terrifyingly rare and wonderful thing: a unique masterpiece...
—Thomas McGonigle, Chicago Tribune
Sebald stands with Primo Levi as the prime speaker of the Holocaust and, with him, the prime contradiction of Adorno's dictum that after it, there can be no art.
—Richard Eder, The New York Times Book Review
Few writers have traveled as quickly from obscurity to the sort of renown that yields an adjective as quickly as German writer W. G. Sebald (1944 - 2001), and now Sebaldian is as evocative as Kafkaesque. Sebald is that rare being: an inimitable stylist who creates extraordinary sentences that, like crystals, simultaneously refract and magnify meaning.
The first thing to be said about W. G. Sebald's books is that they always had a posthumous quality to them. He wrote - as was often remarked - like a ghost. He was one of the most innovative writers of the late twentieth century, and yet part of this originality derived from the way his prose felt exhumed from the nineteenth.
A writer whose work belongs on the high shelf alongside that of Kafka, Borges, and Proust.
—The New York Times Book Review
One of the most mysteriously sublime of contemporary writers.
A writer of almost unclassifiable originality, but whose voice we recognize as indispensable and central to our time.
—The New York Times Book Review
In Sebald's writing, everything is connected, everything webbed together by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death... beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny - an art that was, in the end, Sebald's strange and inscrutable gift.
Tragic, stunningly beautiful, strange and haunting. The secret of Sebald's appeal is that he saw himself in what now seems almost an old-fashioned way as a voice of conscience, someone who remembers injustice, who speaks for those who can no longer speak.
—The New York Review of Books
W. G. Sebald's [early death is] much lamented by admirers of his too few books, chiefly The Emigrants, The Rings of Saturn, Vertigo, and Austerlitz. Readers of these four essay-fictions know that Sebald exemplified the best kind of cosmopolitan literary intelligence - humane, digressive, deeply erudite, unassuming and tinged with melancholy. The last quality is particularly important, for if one had to characterize Sebald's ethos - the mood he generates on the page, the themes that haunt him - one could hardly do better than borrow the title of the famous essay by Freud: 'Mourning and Melancholy.'
—The Washington Post
The Emigrants is one of the best novels to appear since World War II.
—Review of Contemporary Fiction