Many books have attempted to pull off the remarkable trick that Umberto Eco achieved so memorably in The Name of the Rose: embedding a highly compulsive historical thriller within the context of a serious literary novel. Richard Zimler's "The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon" was an intriguing contribution to this fascinating sub-genre. "The Warsaw Anagrams" shares some elements with this earlier book, but is essentially different territory. In 1940, the Nazis have sealed thousands of Jews inside a restricted area of the Polish capital. The aging psychiatrist Erik Cohen is forced to move into a cramped apartment with his niece and nine-year-old nephew Adam. But Adam disappears, and his body is later found in the barbed wire of the ghetto, his leg severed. Subsequently, a young girl's body is found, the hand removed. The elderly Erik is obliged to confront evil in the heart of Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Zimler's canny utilisation here of a protagonist far removed from the vigorous heroes of most fiction is a masterstroke, and adds a new dimension to a novel that incorporates thoughtfulness and the tragedy of history into the exigencies of a mesmerising thriller-oriented narrative.
Causes Richard Zimler Supports
Save the Children, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)