Synopses & Reviews
Gamaliel Friedman is only a child when his family flees Czechoslovakia in 1939 for the relative safety of Hungary. For him, it will be the beginning of a life of rootlessness, disguise, and longing. Five years later, in desperation, Gamaliels parents entrust him to a young Christian cabaret singer named Ilonka. With his Jewish identity hidden, Gamaliel survives the war. But in 1956, to escape the stranglehold of communism, he leaves Budapest after painfully parting from Ilonka.
Gamaliel tries, unsuccessfully, to find a place for himself in Europe. After a failed marriage, he moves to New York, where he works as a ghostwriter, living through the lives of others. Eventually he falls in with a group of exiles, including a rabbi--a mystic whose belief in the potential for grace in everyday life powerfully counters Gamaliels feelings of loss and dispossession. When Gamaliel is asked to help draw out an elderly, disfigured Hungarian woman who may be his beloved Ilonka, he begins to understand that a real life in the present is possible only if he will reconcile with his past.
Tormented by feelings of loss and dispossession after spending his life fleeing first the Nazis and then the 1956 Russian invasion of Hungary, Gamaliel Friedman finally settles in New York, where he works as a ghostwriter and meets a fellow group of exiles, which includes a rabbi whose mystical beliefs finally offer him a chance to reconcile with the past. Reprint. 17,500 first printing.
About the Author
Elie Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The author of more than forty internationally acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction, he is Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and University Professor at Boston University.