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Writing the Book of Esther [a novel]

Henri Raczymow, translated from the French by Dori Katz
Writing the Book of Esther [a novel]
ISBN: 978-0-8419-1335-6
1995/204 pages/LC: 94037604
Distributed for Holmes & Meier Publishers

"Raczymow's powerful and haunting novel ponders the world's inaction in the face of the impending Holocaust, as well as the scarring effects of the Nazi genocide on the younger generation of Jews whose parents survived it ... Raczymow forcefully confronts the dangers of historical amnesia and personal indifference."—Publishers Weekly

"A novel of extraordinary power ... Raczymow gives voice as much to our stuttering inability to remember as to the injunction that we must never forget."—Jerusalem Report

"Profoundly moving and written with great talent and rare sensitivity. Brings the reader closer to a vanished world whose wounded hope and silent despair will long reverberate in his or her memory."—Elie Wiesel

"Mathieu's sister's suicide forces the family to confront the long-range effects of the Holocaust on future generations of one Jewish family in this hard-hitting novel of Jewish Holocaust hauntings. This achieves what few other novels can duplicate, teaching a sense of how political changes ripple down to affect the psyches of future generations."—Midwest Book Review


Mathieu, the narrator of this novel, is compelled by his older sister's suicide to confront the effects of his family's tragic past. Born after the war, Mathieu is left to grapple with recovering his sister's memories—which he had resolutely tried to deny—and with it the meaning of his own identity, family origins, and historical predicament. As neither victim, survivor, nor witness, does he have the right to give voice to the unimaginable? Or is he a voyeur and imposter, usurping the lives of the real victims? Placing in bold relief the hidden thoughts and struggles of the generation that has inherited the anger, sadness, guilt, and fear—but not the actual memory—of the Nazi genocide, Henri Raczymow gives an authentic and powerful voice to its grim legacy in our time.


Henri Raczymow lives in Paris and is the prizewinning author of numerous novels, stories, essays, cultural criticism, and literary portraits devoted to Jewish themes.