A Novel by Alan Lelchuk (USA)

Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in Budapest in 1944-45, was arrested by the Soviets in 1945 and taken to Moscow where he disappeared until his apparent death. Now, more than 65 years after these events, many mysteries about Wallenberg’s life and fate persist. This novel explores the mysteries still surrounding Wallenberg. How and when did he die: in Lybianka prison in Moscow in 1947? Did he perhaps survive in some Gulag camp or psychiatric hospital? Why did he languish in a Soviet prison from 1945-1947 without being exchanged by the Swedish government—as other political prisoners in Europe were--or rescued by his very wealthy and well-connected family in Stockholm? The deepest mystery was Raoul Wallenberg himself. Who was the real man behind the legendary persona of noble diplomat and heroic savior of Budapest Jews?

After reading a provocative graduate student thesis about the fate of Wallenberg, Professor Manny Gellerman, becomes part detective, part historian, through twists and turns, following unorthodox paths, and uncovers some uncomfortable truths that may explain why it was probably more convenient for the Wallenberg family to leave Raoul to linger and fester in Lybianka jail. Gellerman’s quest eventually leads him to a Jewish Hungarian woman, who claims she is the living daughter of Raoul Wallenberg. This novel is at once a detective story, an unusual love story with various layers and surprising characters, and a daring plunge into the gaps of history. The docu-novel achieves a deeper understanding of this mysterious Swede.

"Anyone who cared to know has known for decades roughly what happened to the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg after he disappeared into Russian hands in Hungary in 1945. But exactly what happened — and why, and when, and where? — nobody knows. Not knowing is the great subject of Alan Lelchuk’s remarkable novel about one man’s effort to learn to live on the border separating the known and the unknown.” —Tom Powers, journalist whose work appears frequently in The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, Harper's, The Nation and  the Rolling Stone,  is the author of several major books including The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA and The Killing of Crazy Horse (winner of the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History).

Alan Lelchuk, author of highly acclaimed novels, such as American Mischief, Miriam at Thirty-Four, Shrinking, Miriam in Her Forties, Playing the Game, Brooklyn Boy, Ziff: a Life?, and On Home Ground, has won Guggenheim and Fulbright Awards, and his work has been praised by Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Benjamin DeMott, William Pritchard, and Wilfred Sheed. He is an editor at Steerforth Press and teaches at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

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September 2016 | 288 pp.
978-1-942134-04-6 | Paperback | $16.95

978-1-942134-03-9 | Jacketed Cloth | $26.95