Winner of the Heinrich Mann Prize for fiction
Winner of The Charles Veillon Prize "An unforgettably beautiful novel . . . Cuts to the very heart of human experience.Jacob the Liar
is a strange, powerful, moving work, beautifully written and well served by its translator."–The New York Times Book Review
"One of the enduring works of the Shoah
. . . This miraculous novel pays profound homage to remembrance."–Boston Globe
"Creative storytelling . . . Asks us to weigh the human need for hope in all its real and imagined forms
."–The New Yorker "A novel about the martyrdom of Europe's Jews that has never been surpassed
."–Times Literary Supplement
"Twenty-seven years after its initial German publication, this celebrated . . . novel of life and death in a Nazi-occupied Jewish ghetto during WW II appears here in the translation authorized by the author, a Jewish Holocaust survivor.
In the midst of a morally inverted universe where the monstrously wicked has become utterly commonplace, Jacob Heym, a yellow star on his chest, gives hope to his fellow ghetto occupants by telling them he has clandestinely overheard a radio report that Russian troops are advancing and will soon liberate the ghetto. One life-sustaining lie leads to another as the former eatery owner, who now does back-breaking forced labor in a freight yard, circulates invented radio news of German defeats and Allied progress. Jacob's stories halt a stream of suicides, even though savage beatings, shootings, executions, starvation and deportations to concentration camps continue unabated. In a moving, almost hallucinatory, narrative that gives voice to a grief beyond words, Becker shows us ordinary people struggling to maintain their humanity and dignity. Vennewitz's translation conveys the restraint and emotional power of a story that unfolds with the impact of a moral parable or a folk legend.