Autobiographies of an Angel

Gabor Schein


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Yale University Press
23 August 2022
ISBN: 9780300247411
224 pages

From the publisher

An unflinching narrative of family history in Hungary’s Jewish community and the nation’s deep complicity in the Holocaust
“Gábor Schein is that rarest of elegists, endowed equally with a respect for history and an ecstasy of imagination.”—Joshua Cohen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Netanyahus
Born in 1723 in a small German town, Johann Klarfeld is thirteen when his father dies. He is taken in by a kind Italian painter to live with him and his daughter in The Hague. But the daughter, beautiful and blind, has a secret.
Two centuries later, Berta Jósza is born during World War II in a village in northern Hungary. The daughter of a police officer, Berta watches chaos unfold through her father’s eyes, from the plundering of the possessions of murdered Jews to the carnage of the 1956 Revolution. When she happens upon an enigmatic autobiography in a secondhand bookshop, she can’t shake the sense that she somehow knows the author.
Lyrical and haunting, this is an unforgettable story about the spirit of history and the individual fates that make up the whole—the entwinements of the past and their unshakable hold on the present.