by Steve Sem-Sandberg - £8.99 Faber and Faber (2012)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780571259212 | ISBN 10: 0571259219
In February 1940 the Nazis established what would become the second largest Jewish ghetto in Poland, in the city of Lodz. A wire fence was built around the Old City, completely separating Jewish families, some quarter of a million people, from the rest of the population. The fence was patrolled by police ordered to shoot on sight should anyone attempt to escape.
The ghetto's chosen leader was Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a sixty-three-year-old Jewish businessman. Mysterious, ambiguous, monarchical, 'King Chaim' was motivated by a titanic ambition. Realising that his survival rested upon his ability to make the ghetto indispensable, he sought to transform it into a productive industrial complex, forcing adults and children alike to work punishing hours in workshops to provide supplies for the German military.
Was Rumkowksi a ruthless opportunist - an accessory to the Nazi regime driven by a lust for power? Or was he a pragmatic strategist who managed to save Jewish lives through collaboration? Steve Sem-Sandberg's extraordinary novel draws on genuine chronicles of life in the Lodz ghetto to ask the most difficult questions about survival and oppression.
Now published in over twenty languages, The Emperor of Lies is one of the great Holocaust novels of the twenty-first century by one of Scandinavia's most admired authors.
(Price & availability last checked: June 2019)
In booklists: World Fiction - Poland, Fiction - Anti-Semitism and The Holocaust, Writers by Surname - S, Historical Fiction, Peace and War in Fiction, In categories: Fiction, World - Europe, History & Biography, Jewish Diaspora, Peace & Human Rights,