Diary of the Fall (Michel Laub)

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Diary of the Fall By Michel Laub, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator) Cover Image
By Michel Laub, Margaret Jull Costa (Translator)
ISBN: 9781590516515
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Other Press (NY) - August 26th, 2014

DIARY OF THE FALL is an example of what great literature can do: make the personal universal, and in so doing reveal new corners of human experience. Told in first person, the narrator looks back at a cruel prank he and his friends pulled on the one non-Jewish student at a Jewish school in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The prank, though unkind, isn’t atrocious; it’s simply a mean stunt pulled by children who later feel ashamed about it.

The prank sparks the narrator’s recognition that his own father, now diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and his grandfather, an Auschwitz survivor, were once boys like himself. This single incident in narrator’s past becomes the catalyst for studying a family history, and a mirror on the 20th century. The son, like father, like grandfather, cannot escape history or his own DNA. He belongs to a family of men obsessively documenting their past, even as their futures collapse.

In one small book, DIARY OF THE FALL speaks of tradition, human cruelty, the Holocaust, immigration, the bond between fathers and sons, and how the past is never quite finished with us. It perfectly blends both style and content in unadorned and elegant writing, translated from the Portuguese by the esteemed Margaret Jull Costa. This book has stayed with me for weeks, and I hope it's only the first of Laub's books to be translated into English.

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