And After the Fire: A Novel

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National Jewish Book Award Winner!

The New York Times-bestselling author of A Fierce Radiance and City of Light returns with a new powerful and passionate novel—inspired by historical events—about two women, one European and one American, and the mysterious choral masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach that changes both their lives.

In the ruins of Germany in 1945, at the end of World War II, American soldier Henry Sachs takes a souvenir, an old music manuscript, from a seemingly deserted mansion and mistakenly kills the girl who tries to stop him.

In America in 2010, Henry’s niece, Susanna Kessler, struggles to rebuild her life after she experiences a devastating act of violence on the streets of New York City. When Henry dies soon after, she uncovers the long-hidden music manuscript. She becomes determined to discover what it is and to return it to its rightful owner, a journey that will challenge her preconceptions about herself and her family’s history—and also offer her an opportunity to finally make peace with the past.

In Berlin, Germany, in 1783, amid the city’s glittering salons where aristocrats and commoners, Christians and Jews, mingle freely despite simmering anti-Semitism, Sara Itzig Levy, a renowned musician, conceals the manuscript of an anti-Jewish cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach, an unsettling gift to her from Bach’s son, her teacher. This work and its disturbing message will haunt Sara and her family for generations to come.

Interweaving the stories of Susanna and Sara, and their families, And After the Fire traverses over two hundred years of history, from the eighteenth century through the Holocaust and into today, seamlessly melding past and present, real and imagined. Lauren Belfer’s deeply researched, evocative, and compelling narrative resonates with emotion and immediacy.

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About the author

Lauren Belfer’s novel A Fierce Radiance was named a Washington Post Best Novel; an NPR Best Mystery; and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her debut novel, City of Light, was a New York Times bestseller as well as a number one Book Sense pick; a New York Times Notable Book; a Library Journal Best Book; and a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. She lives in New York City.

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Additional Information

Publisher
HarperCollins
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Published on
May 3, 2016
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9780062428547
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Historical / General
Fiction / Jewish
Fiction / Literary
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Content protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A novel of one dying man’s act of defiance against the Nazis. “This slender, confident debut novel is deliciously atmospheric and tense” (Financial Times).
 
Raphaël Jerusalmy’s debut novel takes the form of the journal of Otto J. Steiner, a former music critic of Jewish descent suffering from tuberculosis in a Salzburg sanatorium in 1939. Drained by his illness and isolated in the gloomy sanatorium, Steiner finds solace only in music. He is horrified to learn that the Nazis are transforming a Mozart festival into a fascist event. Steiner feels helpless at first, but an invitation from a friend presents him with an opportunity to fight back. Under the guise of organizing a concert for Nazi officials, Steiner formulates a plan to save Mozart that could dramatically change the course of the war.
 
“A dazzling, striking debut, as intriguing as its author . . . a compelling success.” —L’Express
 
“Steiner’s fictional diary is a brief but powerful story about a brave feat recorded for a son Steiner will never see again.” —Historical Novel Society
 
“If we can imagine a part of the contents [of the intimate journal kept by Steiner], in direct relation to the somber reality of the period, it does not reserve fewer considerable surprises that situate it well beyond a simple chronicle of the time.” —L’Humanité
 
“The strength of Saving Mozart is its focus on one man’s limited experience of horror.” —Three Guys One Book
 
“Reads like an unexpected gift.” —The Big Issue
Echoing the fiction of Joseph Kanon, Alan Furst, and Daniel Silva, this deeply intelligent debut literary thriller—set within a world still reeling from World War II—explores how the actions of a few can change the course of history.

British-occupied Palestine, 1946: Elderly writer Elias Lind isn’t convinced by reports that his scientist brother, Raphael, died in a concentration camp. Too frail to search for Raphael himself, Elias persuades a contact in the Jewish resistance to send someone in his place.

Lilya joined the resistance movement to help form a new state, not to waste her time on a fruitless chase across a war-ravaged continent at the request of a frail, most likely delusional, old man. As her comrades make their final preparations for a major operation, a bitter Lilya must accept her orders and embark on her journey to Europe. She is traveling as a member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, one of the largest aid organizations for Jewish survivors—many of whom survived the Nazis only to find themselves with no family or home to return to. If Raphael is alive, odds are she will find him among the refugees trapped in displaced persons camps and prevented from immigrating to Palestine by the British.

Lilya’s search leads her from the hushed corridors of London’s Whitehall, home to the British Secret Intelligence Service, to the haunted, rubble-strewn strasses of Munich and Berlin. Visiting Föhrenwald, an overcrowded and underfunded DP camp, she makes a breakthrough. But Lilya isn’t the only person pursuing the missing man. Someone has been mirroring her every move—a dangerous adversary who will go to drastic lengths to find Raphael first.

The #1 International Bestseller & New York Times Bestseller

This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.”—Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.

Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.

One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.

Now a New York Times bestseller!

From the author of Truths I Never Told You and Before I Let You Go, Kelly Rimmer’s powerful WWII novel follows a woman’s urgent search for answers to a family mystery that uncovers truths about herself that she never expected.

“Kelly Rimmer has outdone herself. I thought that Before I Let You Go was one of the best novels I had ever read…If you only have time to read one book this year The Things We Cannot Say should be that book. Keep tissues handy.”—Fresh Fiction

“Fans of The Nightingale and Lilac Girls will adore The Things We Cannot Say.” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author

In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. But little by little, injustice by brutal injustice, the Nazi occupation takes hold, and Alina’s tiny rural village, its families, are divided by fear and hate.

Then, as the fabric of their lives is slowly picked apart, Tomasz disappears. Where Alina used to measure time between visits from her beloved, now she measures the spaces between hope and despair, waiting for word from Tomasz and avoiding the attentions of the soldiers who patrol her parents’ farm. But for now, even deafening silence is preferable to grief.

Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

It is 1901 and Buffalo, New York, stands at the center of the nation's attention as a place of immense wealth and sophistication. The massive hydroelectric power development at nearby Niagara Falls and the grand Pan-American Exposition promise to bring the Great Lakes “city of light” even more repute.

Against this rich historical backdrop lives Louisa Barrett, the attractive, articulate headmistress of the Macaulay School for Girls. Protected by its powerful all-male board, “Miss Barrett” is treated as an equal by the men who control the life of the city. Lulled by her unique relationship with these titans of business, Louisa feels secure in her position, until a mysterious death at the power plant triggers a sequence of events that forces her to return to a past she has struggled to conceal, and to question everything and everyone she holds dear.

Both observer and participant, Louisa Barrett guides the reader through the culture and conflicts of a time and place where immigrant factory workers and nature conservationists protest violently against industrialists, where presidents broker politics, where wealthy “Negroes” fight for recognition and equality, and where women struggle to thrive in a system that allows them little freedom.

Wrought with remarkable depth and intelligence, City of Light remains a work completely of its own era, and of ours as well. A stirring literary accomplishment, Lauren Belfer's first novel marks the debut of a fresh voice for the new millennium and heralds a major publishing event.
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