A Replacement Life
A Replacement Life
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.
Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus, and immigrated to the United States in 1988 at the age of nine. His journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. His first novel, A Replacement Life won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and the American Library Association s Sophie Brody Medal, was one of The New York Times' 100 Notable Books, and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. He lives in New York.
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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