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A Boy in Winter

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
Aug 01, 2017 | 256 Pages
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  • Hardcover $25.95

    Aug 01, 2017 | 256 Pages

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    Aug 01, 2017 | 256 Pages

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“Halfway through Rachel Seiffert’s new novel, when the SS death squad starts shooting, most readers will shudder. They all know, they think, what is coming: not just a gruesome depiction of the Nazis’ murderous campaign against European Jews, but the Holocaust narrative itself, by now a well-stocked shelf. It is a mark of Seiffert’s gifts that her slender tale, A Boy in Winter, upends these expectations….Ms. Seiffert’s prose is not showy, but graceful and precise. The misery of the dank streets is relieved by flashes of light and humanity….Most literature of the ‘third generation’ after the war explores the impact on its descendants. Ms. Seiffert’s fictions are different: they inhabit the events themselves. Yet from all too familiar horror they swerve into the unexpected, into a new story—a gleam in the darkness that readers haven’t seen before.” The Economist

“Swift and terrifying….Seiffert is such a patient and poised storyteller that, even though history tells us otherwise, like all the characters in the book, we read toward its terrible climax believing — perhaps it will not happen. As in her other two novels and story collection, Seiffert packs a great deal into a small amount of space. Her prose style resembles a cello onstage played in the pitch dark. Sonorous and somber and yet what use it makes of just a few notes….Eventually, what this book has been building toward happens, and there are few passages in modern literature as harrowing and as necessary to read….[Seiffert] has done a tremendous service to memory, and she has given us not a way out, but deeper in, where we must go.” The Boston Globe

“Seiffert’s contribution to the ever growing shelf of Holocaust fiction provides an emotional close-up of the experiences of several characters in a small Ukrainian town on the day the German troops arrive to round up the Jews, the day the nightmare begins in earnest….This novel allows the reader to imagine and to empathize, to have a vivid moral experience, while managing to avoid the surfeit of violent, horrific detail that can sometimes result in a kind of genocide porn. All the notes of the Holocaust song, including the rare ray of hope, are played in this spare, fast-moving novel.” Kirkus Reviews
“Seiffert’s characterization is well-realized, with a Nazi Sturmbannführer (military officer) portrayed with more complexity than archetypal villainy. The novel truly shines in its offering of diverse, authentic perspectives…. Seiffert does provides more successful instances of kindness as well as hope in her accomplished literary work.” Booklist

“The primal energy in this novel is a moral sore that will never heal … [a] fine novel.” —John Sutherland, The Times
“Seiffert’s cool tone never wavers—her spare, beautiful prose is a joy to read.” —Helen Dunmore, The Guardian
“Rachel Seiffert’s new novel A Boy in Winter stretches over only three days, through which you encounter all the emotions of the time, horror and instinct for survival, family loyalty, and above all perhaps, bravery.” James Naughtie, BBC World TV
“Spare, elegant and devastating.” Psychologies
“Completely captures those times in a vivid, precise, captivating and terrible way.” —Philippe Sands, author of East West Street

“This is not a gruesome depiction of the Nazis’ murderous campaign against European Jews but an upending of those dire expectations. We see light in the darkness and humanity in the inhumane. After the horror there is hope and a new story begins…. In a period of just three days, we experience every emotion possible rendered to us in Seiffert’s gorgeous prose. The times are captured vividly and terribly. I had to remind myself that I was actually reading and not experiencing what I read. We cannot say that about many authors.” —Amos Lassen

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