Written as a report to the chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, our unnamed narrator recounts his own undoing. Hired as a promising young historian, he soon becomes a leading expert on Nazi methods of extermination at concentration camps in Poland during World War II and guides tours through the sites for students and visiting dignitaries. He hungrily devours every detail of life and death in the camps and takes pride in being able to recreate for his audience the excruciating last moments of the victims' lives.The job becomes a mission, and then an obsession. Spending so much time immersed in death, his connections with the living begin to deteriorate. He resents the students lost in their iPhones, singing sentimental songs, not expressing sufficient outrage at the genocide committed by the Nazis.
House of Glass
By Freeman, Hadley
Writer Hadley Freeman investigates her familys secret history in this "exceptional" (The Washington Post) "masterpiece" (The Daily Telegraph) uncovering a story that spans a century, two World Wars, and three generations.Hadley Freeman knew her grandmother Sara lived in France just as Hitler started to gain power, but rarely did anyone in her family talk about it. Long after her grandmothers death, she found a shoebox tucked in the closet containing photographs of her grandmother with a mysterious stranger, a cryptic telegram from the Red Cross, and a drawing signed by Picasso. This discovery sent Freeman on a decade-long quest to uncover the significance of these keepsakes, taking her from Picassos archives in Paris to a secret room in a farmhouse in Auvergne to Long Island to Auschwitz. Freeman pieces together the puzzle of her familys past, discovering more about the lives of her grandmother and her three brothers, Jacques, Henri, and Alex. Their stories sometimes typical, sometimes astonishing - reveal the broad range of experiences of Eastern European Jews during the Holocaust. This "frightening, inspiring, and cautionary" (Kirkus Reviews) family saga is filled with extraordinary twists, vivid characters, and famous cameos, illuminating the Jewish and immigrant experience in the World War II era. Reviewers have asked: "is there a better book about being Jewish?" (The Daily Telegraph) Addressing themes of assimilation, identity, and home, House of Glass is "a triumph" (The Bookseller) and a powerful story about the past that echoes issues that remain relevant today.
The Lost Shtetl
By Gross, Max
A remarkable debut novel - written with the fearless imagination of Michael Chabon and the piercing humor of Gary Shteyngart - about a small Jewish village in the Polish forest that is so secluded no one knows it exists . . . until now.What if there was a town that history missed?For decades, the tiny Jewish shtetl of Kreskol existed in happy isolation, virtually untouched and unchanged. Spared by the Holocaust and the Cold War, its residents enjoyed remarkable peace. It missed out on cars, and electricity, and the internet, and indoor plumbing. But when a marriage dispute spins out of control, the whole town comes crashing into the twenty-first century.Pesha Lindauer, who has just suffered an ugly, acrimonious divorce, suddenly disappears. A day later, her husband goes after her, setting off a panic among the town elders.