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The Warsaw Anagrams

Richard Zimler

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ISBN 13: 9781590200889
Trim Size: 5 3/8 x 8

Product Description

Warsaw, 1941--an exhausted and elderly psychiatrist named Erik Cohen makes his way home to the Jewish ghetto after being interned in a Nazi labor camp. Yet only one visionary man—Heniek Corben— can see him and hear him. Heniek soon realizes that Cohen has become an ibbur—a spirit. But how and why has he taken this form?

As Cohen recounts his disturbing and moving story, small but telling inconsistencies appear in his narrative. Heniek begins to believe that Cohen is not the secular Jew he claims to be, but may, in fact, be a student of practical Kabbalah—of magic. Why is he lying? And what is the importance of the anagrams he creates for the names of his friends and relatives? Heniek traces his suspicions and comes to an astonishing conclusion—one that has consequences for his own identity and life, and perhaps for the reader’s as well.

RICHARD ZIMLER has published seven novels including The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, published by Overlook. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in twelve countries, including the U.S., Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, and Australia. Richard also writes reviews for the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Praise for The Warsaw Anagrams:

"The highly unusual setting adds tension to the investigation, and Zimler successfully manages to convey the horrors of the Holocaust through the experiences of one family." --Publishers Weekly

"An elderly Jewish psychiatrist investigates his grandnephew's murder in the Warsaw ghetto amid the horrors of the Holocaust." --LA Times

"Richard Zimler's Warsaw Anagrams is a gripping heartbreaking and beautiful thriller, set in the darkest depths of Nazi barbarity, but also a unforgettable, poetical and original journey into the mysteries of evil, decency and the human heart." --Simon Sebag Monteviore, author of Jerusalem: The Biography and Young Stalin

“Beautifully written, moving and disturbing, this packs a powerful, emotional punch.” --The Guardian

"Author Richard Zimler has been deservedly called 'an American Umberto Eco,' and has his own high standards to live up to. With his latest novel The Warsaw Anagrams, he not only reaches those heights but thoroughly surpasses them. Equal parts riveting, heartbreaking, inspiring, and intelligent, this mystery set in the most infamous Jewish ghetto of World War II deserves a place among the most important works of Holocaust literature . . . Proof of Zimpler's prodigious gifts of sensitivity, complexity and verisimilitude can be found in the way that we root for the survival of a narrator we know from the outset is already dead . . . Such is the power of his voice's intimacy and purpose to insist on being listened to . . . The Warsaw Anagrams will surely appeal to readers compelled by murder mysteries, readers intrigued by history and World War II atrocities, readers attracted to literary fiction rich in nuanced philosophical examinations of the human psyche." --San Francisco Chronicle

"The Warsaw Anagrams is an interesting mystery in itself, but Zimler is after bigger game. He hopes to prevent us from forgetting about the victims of the Nazis' ethnic cleansing. He succeeds admirably as far as I'm concerned. His eye for the details of life in the ghetto is piercing, and his vision is clear and unsentimental. This is a book that will remain in your mind long after it has been replaced on the shelf." --The Washington Independent Review of Books

"Setting a mystery during the Holocaust could be cheap or sensationalistic. In The Warsaw Anagrams, Richard Zimler quickly dispels both concerns with smart, metaphorical writing that owes more to Isaac Bashevis Singer than to Richard North Patterson . . . Zimler, in spare but striking prose, is masterful at showing how ordinary people can be moved to do extraordinary evil and, just occasionally, extraordinary good." --Newsday

"Zimler's Warsaw Anagrams tells the story of Jews locked in the Warsaw ghetto. His previous book, the highly regarded Last Kabbalist of Lisbon also had a grim setting: the lachrymose reality of the Portuguese Inquisition. Yet Zimler is not a mourner of deaths, but a champion of hope and life. His novels are at once thrillers and deeply instructive." --Tikkun

"Wrenching and raw, The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler is an historical suspense novel as unique as it is compelling…This chilling novel explores themes of loss, survival, deprivation and the resilience of the human spirit; and while it contains several disturbing and graphic scenes essential to describing the horrors of ghetto life, Zimler’s skill as a writer is without question." --Foreword Reviews

"As he did so brilliantly in The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (1998), Zimler builds a riveting mystery around one of the most horrific moments in Jewish history…Moving back and forth in time, Zimler brings the dailiness of life in the ghetto--both its overwhelming horror and claustrophobia and its moments of startling humanity--to vivid, sometimes unbearable life, all in the context of a nightmare version of the classic locked-room mystery. Gripping and deeply disturbing." --Booklist

"The novel is already a bestseller in Britain and Portugal because the author of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon sticks with what he knows: Jewish culture and the thriller. It is precisely this mix of genres that makes his new novel successful . . . The novel reveals itself to be following a classic Noir structure; a detective-style murder mystery, not only Holocaust literature--double sweet candy for fans of both genres . . . Zimler's novel tackles an eerie, incomprehensible idea, one that will remain perennially fascinating for its historic bizarreness: the skin of human beings was used to make lampshades.  Where did these lampshades come from? That's something to write a novel about." --Daily Beast

"To set such a dark subject into an already midnight black situation makes for a vivid if depressing read . . . The author describes with clarity of observation the atmosphere of human degradation and chronicles the loss of hope eventually experienced by those incarcerated within the walls." --Historical Novels Review

"The Warsaw Anagrams is both a fast-moving, readable mystery and a rich, serious novel. Despite the many books and endless discussions on the Holocaust, Zimler offers a fresh voice, one that has endured anger and terror to offer us optimism." –Tikkun

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