The German Moneyby Lev Raphael
"Lev Raphael is a daring writer—one who will not be -restrained by genre, but who tells his story with all the tools at his command. The German Money combines all of Raphael’s estimable talents, delivering an emotional thriller about a totally believable contemporary family coming to terms with fifty years of silence."—Edmund/i>
"Lev Raphael is a daring writer—one who will not be -restrained by genre, but who tells his story with all the tools at his command. The German Money combines all of Raphael’s estimable talents, delivering an emotional thriller about a totally believable contemporary family coming to terms with fifty years of silence."—Edmund White
Best known for Dancing on Tisha B’Av, the groundbreaking story collection exploring the lives of children of Holocaust survivors, Lev Raphael is also the author of five popular mysteries. Now he combines his talents in a story of emotional suspense.
Paul has spent his life running—from New York, the city of his birth; from his beautiful beshert; from contact with his own siblings; but mostly from his mother, a Holocaust survivor of inexplicable coldness. Upon her mysterious death, the children face shocking questions. What caused her to die? Why did she divide their inheritance so that Paul, the least favorite son, was singled out to receive the most, the dreaded "German money,"a bequest of a million dollars accrued from German reparations to survivors . . . a gift as cynical as it is generous.
"Lev Raphael’s new novel is a powerful, haunting and erotic tale. The stunning narrative builds to a shocking -denouement and kept me turning pages faster and faster to learn the truth."—Linda Fairstein
Lev Raphael is the author of thirteen books and known internationally as an insightful chronicler of the lives of the children of Holocaust survivors. Winner of the Lambda Literary Award, among many prizes, his short works have appeared in two dozen anthologies, including American Jewish Fiction: A Century of Stories. He is a book critic for National Public Radio and mysteries columnist for the Detroit Free Press.
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Meet the Author
Lev Raphael is the author of fifteen books and known internationally as the chronicler of the lives of the children of Holocaust survivors. Winner of the Lambda Literary Award, among many prizes, his short works have appeared in two dozen anthologies. He performs all over the country at Jewish Book Fairs and has a weekly book show on NPR.
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Lev Raphael is an excellent writer. German Money is the story of a young man who inherits the reparations money given by Germany to his mother. He can't decide whether to keep this money and his struggles with both his brother and sister are explained in this intriguing family drama. Raphael has a style of writing that propels the story while providing a certain intimacy with his characters that many other authors cannot achieve. Get this book if you want an opportunity to better understand holocaust victims and the impact this nightmare had on their families.
If you've not read much about the Holocaust, the twist in Lev Raphael's latest book, The German Money, is pretty strange. Hard to believe. Fantastical even. But if you're a Holocaust survivor, or the child of one, or happen to know much about the Holocaust and its aftermath in terms of the physical and psychological toll it too on its victims, this tale easy to believe. Raphael, a child of survivors, writes an emotionally- charged, raw and honest story with a shocking ending, but one that clearly ties up the question of why and how the mother died, and neatly ties up other parts of the story, too. It's an ending worth waiting for. Not that you'll skip ahead, mind you, you'll be much too busy turning the pages to find out what comes next. No doubt those familiar with Raphael's other work will compare The German Money with Winter Eyes. Having not read Winter Eyes prior to reading The German Money, I picked up my wife's copy of that book and read it. Powerful writing there, too. And while they tackle somewhat the same subject, each book carves out it's own niche quite nicely. If you take the children of Holocaust survivors from Winter Eyes and mix in Raphael's mastery of mystery in the Nick Hoffman series, you get The German Money -- a gripping, well-drawn story that shows the emotional impact the Holocaust has on the children of the survivors, too. Raphael's gift for turns of phrase that sketch out dramatic characters and scenes is in full flower here, wrapped up in a package that I could barely put down while waiting for a delayed flight at Detroit's Metro Airport. I'm no fan of Northworst, as he and many Michigan residents know Northwest Airlines, but that five-hour delay gave me plenty of time to read. The German Money kept me so engaged and turning pages that I didn't notice the time go by.
As a bookseller, I am careful about the books that I recommend to reading groups. It isn¿t enough that the book be a ¿good read¿ (easily enjoyed and as easily forgotten). People join book clubs for a variety of reasons, sometimes social ones, and often because they are starved for a decent conversation. But the conversation will only be as good as the book, so there isn¿t any point in choosing something easy. I agree with Kafka when he says ¿A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us¿, especially when it comes to book club reading. If you don¿t find your world rocked and your assumptions challenged, then what will there be to discuss? Nothing kills a discussion faster than a book that everyone likes, but no one can complain about. I highly recommend ¿The German Money¿ by Lev Raphael for reading groups. The author, an award-winning writer and a book reviewer for The Detroit Free Press, is perhaps best known for his wickedly satirical mystery novels. But this book is something entirely different: The German Money-- in Paul's family it refers to money paid by the German government as reparations to his cold and enigmatic mother, a survivor of the Holocaust. When his mother suddenly dies, Paul is shocked and bewildered to find she has left him the entire amount of 'the German money'. Shocked, because there is over a million dollars. Bewildered, because it was left to him with no explanation, even though Paul hadn't spoken to his mother in years, unlike his brother Simon and sister Dina, who don¿t receive a dime. Feeling like a reluctant prodigal son, Paul endures the simmering hostility of his sister, and the quiet grief of his brother, while he tries to come to terms with this troubling and mysterious legacy. But the more he finds out, the more he starts to have doubts about his mother's death. Rose was a bitter woman but healthy one, with no reason to die of a sudden heart attack. So what really happened? And why don¿t his brother and sister want to know? This is an intense novel that insists its reader fall into Paul's world- a world filled with secrets and silences, where the past was too painful to accept and was ruthlessly expunged. The world, in fact, of many children of Holocaust survivors. His mother filled Paul¿s childhood with a disastrous string of furious, inexplicable outbursts, and equally furious, implacable rejections. He was a child astray in his mother¿s emotional minefield. It was inevitable that he would be maimed. The book is written entirely in Paul¿s point of view¿the author never breaks ranks from the first person, a stylistic feat in itself. But this is no gentle reminisce by a friendly narrator. The story is relentless and Paul¿s anguish and turmoil inescapable. Readers will know what it is to be an angry and embittered young Jewish man who has spent the better part of his life running from something that happened over fifty years ago, to a completely different person. Even a million dollars can¿t make it all better. There is enough here for hours of good discussion, and a few places to indulge in a truly heated argument. Do children always have to pay for the sins of their parents? Can something as ephemeral as money ever hope to compensate the victims of the Holocaust? And most importantly, is forgiveness possible?. The German Money wields a sharp axe at a vast frozen sea, indeed.