From the detention centre on Ellis Island, Ludwig Somner looks across a small stretch of water to the glittering towers of New York, which whisper seductively of freedom after so many years of wandering through a perlious, suffering Europe.
Remarque's final novel, left unfinished at his death, tells of the precarious life of the refugee - life lived in hotel lobbies, on false passports, the strange, ill-assorted refugee community held together by an unspeakable past.
For Somner, each new luxury - ice cream served in drugstores, bright shop windows, art, a new suit, a new romance - has a bittersweet edge.
Memories of war and inhumanity continue to resurface even in this peaceful promised land. A haunting snapshot of a unique time, place and predicament, this is another powerful comment from Remarque on the devastating effects of war.