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Hester Among The Ruins
Hester Among the Ruins is a darkly comic novel about a love affair lived out in the shadows of World War II. History takes a contemporary twist when biographer Hester Rosenfeld very American and marginally Jewish goes to Munich to research the life of Heinrich Falk and becomes his mistress. Born in Berlin in 1943, raised in the ruins of defeat, Professor Falk is the German Everyman. Hester believes his life story could make for an important historical document, but when she delves deeper into his family's past, she finds herself reexamining her feelings about her German-Jewish immigrant parents and her complicated attraction to Heinrich. As the lovers' intimacy grows, each suspect the other of hiding something.
Morally powerful, Kirshenbaum's searing novel bears witness to history's unforgettable legacy and its continuing impact.
Praise for Hester Among the Ruins
A Chicago Tribune Favorite Book of the Year
American Jewish Book Award Nominee
"An enticing, brainy, and dark novel about one of the entangling enigmas of modern history. Ms. Kirshenbaum's comedy had fizz and bite. She handles interrogation, passionate love, her two characters and what they seem to represent with disconcerting sleight of hand" —The New York Times
"A sly and very black comedy...A complex and painfully funny novel." — The New York Times Book Review
"(A) powerful and profoundly moving new novel." — The Forward
"Engrossing." —The Chicago Tribune
"Kirshenbaum's barrage of wit in both expository prose and dialogue has the reader in a titter while contemplating issues of recrimination and forgiveness." — The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Here is a strange, and strangely compelling, admixture of the light-hearted and haunted. Hester's passionate compulsions are both giddy and grief-laden, and what rises from the ruins is the presence of the past." — Nicholas Delbanco
"Quick wit and irreverence gives way to serious documentation of her German lover's past and her own emotional ambiguities as a child of immigrant Jews. Binnie Kirshenbaum's poignant and unflinching portrait of her brash American heroine reveals the painful confrontation of personal and public history." — Maureen Howard
"Hester Among the Ruins is a rending meditation on history and culpability, piercing in its tenderness, piercing in its love a heartstopper." — Junot Diaz
"Binnie Kirshenbaum has given readers the gift of a beautiful and necessary novel." — Joanna Scott
"Kirshenbaum's fiction is shaped by humor that is sly in its deadpan delivery and pinpoint accuracy, by an assured female sexiness, and by a penetrating inquiry into what it means to be Jewish in the wake of the Holocaust." — Booklist
as riveting for its mordant humor as for its insightful portrayal of a
romance doomed by twentieth-century history."