Displaced Persons: A Novel

Displaced Persons: A Novel

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by Ghita Schwarz

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“This is an amazing novel. The writing is piercing and clear, and the humanity of the author and her characters will inhabit my thoughts for years to come.”
—Anne Roiphe, National Book Award-winning author of Fruitful


An astonishing tale of grief and anger, memory and survival, Displaced Persons marks the


“This is an amazing novel. The writing is piercing and clear, and the humanity of the author and her characters will inhabit my thoughts for years to come.”
—Anne Roiphe, National Book Award-winning author of Fruitful


An astonishing tale of grief and anger, memory and survival, Displaced Persons marks the arrival of a supremely gifted new literary talent, Ghita Schwarz. Schwarz’s powerful story of a group of Holocaust survivors—“displaced persons”—struggling to remake their lives and cope with the stigma of their pasts in the wake of the monumental Nazi horror is beautiful, tragic, moving, and unforgettable, chronicling the lives of ordinary people who have suffered under extraordinary circumstances.

Editorial Reviews

USA Today
“Schwarz ... captures perfectly, and with elegance, the highs and lows, the grief and anger, and the paranoia of these refugees. In a word, this is a ‘humane’ novel.”
“A deft rendering of the emotional architecture of an ad-hoc family of Holocaust survivors.”
Colson Whitehead
“Ghita Schwarz makes her mark with this remarkable debut. Displaced Persons is a brave, brilliant, and haunting work of art.”
Anne Roiphe
“This is an amazing novel. The writing is piercing and clear, and the humanity of the author and her characters will inhabit my thoughts for years to come.”
Joshua Henkin
“Ghita Schwarz poignantly reminds us that history chases us even if we run from it and that memory ensnares us wherever we turn. Displaced Persons is a big, ambitious novel, yet what’s most striking is its humanity....[it] is a terrific novel.”
Associated Press Staff
“In this powerful debut novel, author Ghita Schwarz, a child of Holocaust survivors, hypnotically spins the tale of a Polish Jew Named Pavel who bravely rebuilds his shattered life in the aftermath of World War II.... Schwarz brilliantly gives us the long view of what postwar survival really meant.”
“An exquisite rendering of the internal lives of survivors”
St Louis Jewish News
“A haunting and memorable debut. . . . Fascinating”
The Brooklyn Paper
“An epic tale...”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Ghita Schwarz is a civil rights lawyer specializing in immigrants’ rights. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Displaced Persons was a finalist for the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s Goldberg Prize for Outstanding Fiction.

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Displaced Persons 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
"Dis­placed Per­sons" by Ghita Schwartz is a fic­tional book which fol­lows a group of holo­caust sur­vivors from their lib­er­a­tion to the twi­light of their life. This is a mov­ing nar­ra­tive of peo­ple with no coun­try and no home. Cov­er­ing sev­eral decades, the book is divided into three sec­tions begin­ning in 1945. At the Bergen-Belsen refugee camp sev­eral peo­ple meet and become those that the book fol­lows. Pavel, Fela, Chaim, Berel, Dvora and their daugh­ter Sima all become "Dis­placed Per­sons" or DPs. 'Dis­placed Per­sons" by Ghita Schwartz is a post World War II sur­vival story. An evoca­tive novel which fol­lows holo­caust sur­vivors for decades after their lib­er­a­tion. The con­tent of the story is very inter­est­ing and thought pro­vok­ing. What I found most inter­est­ing is how, liv­ing through decades after being lib­er­ated, the world treats the sur­vivors dif­fer­ently. The per­spec­tive is not only that of the sur­vivors them­selves, but also of the soci­ety around them. That is the aspect of the book I liked the most, soci­ety has not treated the sur­vivors gen­er­ously as we might like to imag­ine. For many years they were seen as weak­lings, walk­ing to the gas cham­bers like sheep to the slaughter. Ms. Schwartz fol­lows the sur­vivors and gets into their mind­set, they have been through the worst mankind can throw at them and have per­se­vered. They don't com­plain, share or talk about the past; they sim­ply grunt and take the punches life throws at them qui­etly and with dignity. The char­ac­ters in the book are strong, resilient, com­plex and pro­found - even though there was no one I could iden­tify with. They are three dimen­sional, real and face hard­ships and strug­gles like the rest of us, only with a huge amount of baggage. At times, how­ever, I found myself get­ting dis­con­nected from the story. It might have been the writ­ing style, even though the book is well writ­ten, or the sticky and emo­tional sub­ject mat­ter. This is not a quick read, but a deep, some­times dis­turb­ing explo­ration of the long term impact and injuries the holo­caust created. The novel fol­lows their strug­gles and tri­als through­out their lives in Europe and even­tu­ally in the US.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
In May 1945, Pavel Mandl, a Polish Jew recently liberated from a concentration camp, finds himself among similarly displaced persons gathered in the Allied occupation zones of a defeated Germany. Possessing little besides a map, a few tins of food, and a talent for black-market trading, he must scrape together a new life in a chaotic community of refugees, civilians, and soldiers. With fellow refugees Fela, a young widow, and Chaim, a resourceful teenager with impressive smuggling skills, Pavel establishes a makeshift family, as together they face an uncertain future. Eventually the trio immigrates to the United States, where they grapple with past traumas that arise again in the everyday moments of lives no longer dominated by the need to endure, fight, hide, or escape. Ghita Schwarz's Displaced Persons is an astonishing novel of grief, anger, and survival that examines the landscape of liberation and reveals the interior despairs and joys of immigrants shaped by war and trauma. My Review: I personally found this a difficult book to get through. The story at times repeats itself over and over and I found myself wondering if I was on the same page or was simply re-reading the passage over again. While the story content had me interested, it was simply the style of writing that did not appeal to me. There is a situation where Pavel and Fischl, his traveling companion from the concentration camp come upon a home where a widow is staying. While sleeping, it's not clear at some point in the story that they are having a flash back or the story is just skipping by to their time in the camp. All of a sudden they simply wake up and Fischl leaves. Pavel heads out to a refugee camp where he meets a woman, Fela who herself is a young widow and a boy by the name of Chaim who is apparently taken for stealing. Then next we read all three are headed back to the old widows home where he stayed previously and Chaim is with them. It doesn't state how he was released or how he managed to be traveling with them. Then they end up removing the old lady from her home, telling the local police that they own the home instead despite the kindness she showed him and Fischl earlier. For me there is simply a huge disconnect in the telling of the story. My other readers however might find the story one they can work through, but for me it didn't work. I would rate this book a 1.5 out of 5 stars. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and would recommend readers who are interested to give it a try, they may just see something I didn't.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago