Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, March 24, 2023

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn- 2006- 517 Pages


The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn- 2006- 530 Pages 

The Lost begins as the story of a boy who grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust. He was initially motivated by a cache of letters written by his grandfather. His lost relatives were seemingly betrayed. From this he develops a powerful drive to find out how his Jewish ancestors died in the Ukraine during the Hololocost. Mendelsohn sets out to find the remaining eyewitnesses to his relatives' fates. That quest eventually takes him to a dozen countries on four continents and forces him to confront the wrenching discrepancies between the histories we live and the stories we tell. And it leads him, finally, back to the small Ukrainian town where his family's story began, and where the solution to a decades-old mystery awaits him.

The book is part memoirs of his growing up, his education as a classics scholar fluent in Greek, Latin, as well Yiddish and some Russian and Ukrainian. Interwoven with his journey are accounts of Medieval Cabbalist thought and accounts of the history of the murder of Jews by Germans and Ukrainians. Everyone he encountered said "The Ukrainians were the worst".  

He sought out those who might have known his relatives, all now at least in their eighties. Soon he learned that some contacts had moved to New York City, some Australia, others Stockholm and Israel. He often traveled with his siblings.

Some contacts were eager to talk to him, most insisted he share large meals.  

This is a work of deep scholarship both in its account of the Holocaust in Ukraine and of Mendelsohn's fairly extensive explications of Torah commentary as it might serve to illuminate the Holocaust. It is also a deeply personal account of how Mendelsohn's upbringing shaped him.

"Daniel Mendelsohn is an internationally bestselling author, critic, essayist, and translator. Born in New York City in 1960, he received degrees in Classics from the University of Virginia and Princeton. After completing his Ph.D. he moved to New York City, where he began freelance writing full time; since 1991 he has been a prolific contributor of essays, reviews, and articles to many publications, most frequently The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. He has also been a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and a columnist for The New York Times Book Review, Harper’s, and New York magazine, where he was the weekly book critic. In February 2019, he was named Editor-at-Large of the New York Review of Books and the Director of the Robert B. Silvers Foundation, a charitable trust that supports writers of nonfiction, essay, and criticism.

Mendelsohn’s books include An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic (2017), named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Newsday, Library Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, and Kirkus; The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006), which won the National Books Critics Circle Award and the National Jewish Book Award in the United States and the Prix Médicis in France; a memoir, The Elusive Embrace (1999), a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; three collections of essays; a scholarly study of Greek tragedy, Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays (2002), and a two-volume translation of the poetry of C. P. Cavafy (2009), which included the first English translation of the poet’s “Unfinished Poems.” His tenth book, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate, will be published in September 2020." From Daniel

Mel Ulm

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