A Replacement Life

A Replacement Life Cover

A Replacement Life

By Boris Fishman

Harper, Hardcover, 9780062287878, 321pp.

Publication Date: June 3, 2014


A singularly talented writer makes his literary debut with this provocative, soulful, and sometimes hilarious story of a failed journalist asked to do the unthinkable: Forge Holocaust-restitution claims for old Russian Jews in Brooklyn, New York.

Yevgeny Gelman, grandfather of Slava Gelman, didn t suffer in the exact way he needs to have suffered to qualify for the restitution the German government has been paying out to Holocaust survivors. But suffer he has as a Jew in the war; as a second-class citizen in the USSR; as an immigrant to America. So? Isn t his grandson a writer ?

High-minded Slava wants to put all this immigrant scraping behind him. Only the American Dream is not panning out for him Century, the legendary magazine where he works as a researcher, wants nothing greater from him. Slava wants to be a correct, blameless American but he wants to be a lionized writer even more.

Slava's turn as the Forger of South Brooklyn teaches him that not every fact is the truth, and not every lie a falsehood. It takes more than law-abiding to become an American; it takes the same self-reinvention in which his people excel. Intoxicated and unmoored by his inventions, Slava risks exposure. Cornered, he commits an irrevocable act that finally grants him a sense of home in America, but not before collecting a price from his family.

A Replacement Life is a dark, moving, and beautifully written novel about family, honor, and justice.

Monday, Jul 28, 2014

Alan Cheuse reviews A Replacement Life, Boris Fishman's humorous account of Holocaust survivors in today's New York. More at NPR.org

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