German Lessons by Kieran Donaghue

Thursday October 17th, 6pm

German Lessons by Kieran Donaghue

Join us for the launch of Kieran Donaghue's new novel German Lessons

Speaking at the launch along with the author will be historian and religious commentator Paul Collins



or phone 6295 6723


German Lessons is both a coming-of-age novel and a work of historical fiction. It is set in Germany between autumn 1932 and spring 1933, the final months of the Weimar Republic and the early period of Nazi rule. The unfolding story of the central character, Frank Hannaford, a young Australian Catholic studying at a German university, examines the ethics of action and inaction in the context of the response of the Catholic Church to the new political realities of Germany. The story also reveals the extent to which Hitler’s rise to power harnessed the potential for violence of young men.

German Lessons is well-researched and historically accurate. Its informed exploration of ethical vacillation in the pre-WWII Catholic Church will engage and provoke older readers as well as lovers of historical fiction. It will also resonate with those following contemporary issues in the Church. The themes of ethics and personal growth will create discussion points and questions for younger readers, as well as building their knowledge of this historical period. Younger readers may also identify with Frank, a young adult trying to find his way in the challenging situations in which he finds himself, and with Anja, a young German woman who refuses to be intimidated by the Nazis.

Kieran Donaghue studied philosophy in Australia, the US and Germany. After a stint teaching at ANU he worked for nearly 20 years for the Australian government's overseas aid agency (AusAID, now part of DEFAT), with a particular focus on the relationship between government and non-government aid programs and on microfinance, the provision of sustainable financial services to people living in circumstances of poverty.

He retains a strong interest in philosophical and psychological issues, in particular in the nature of belief and its relation to reason, emotion, commitment and action. What is a belief? Why do people believe the things they do? In what circumstances is faith a virtue? Is sincerity always a virtue? Questions of political ideology and of religion are of particular interest to Kieran.

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