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Overlooked by Nazis, an untouched Jewish village in Poland remeets ‘real’ world

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14.10.2020

The Holocaust always fascinated author Max Gross. But while reading incessantly about the Nazis’ notoriously efficient genocide of the Jews, one thought kept niggling at him: He wondered whether they could have just possibly missed a Jewish village somewhere in Eastern Europe. And if so, what would have happened?

Gross, 41, imagines a possible answer to this question in his terrific debut novel, “The Lost Shtetl,” published October 13.

Growing up in New York, he would ride the subways reading books on World War II, including biographies of Adolf Hitler. “When I got a Kindle, people on the subway finally stopped thinking I was a Nazi,” he joked to The Times of Israel in a recent interview.

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All that reading paid off in the realistic touches within the fabulism of “The Lost Shtetl.” Here we have a fictional Polish shtetl called Kreskol that was inexplicably passed over by the Nazis. Life carries on in Kreskol undisturbed as it did a century ago. However, when a newly divorced couple disappears, unforeseen events lead to a disturbing awakening for the town’s inhabitants. ‘The Lost Shtetl’ by Max Gross (HarperCollins)

Having been cut off from the rest of the country and the world (no spoilers about the how, when and why), the people of Kreskol emerge into modern-day Poland with no knowledge of the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, or the Cold War. They have never seen an automobile, telephone or computer.

Such a tale would be in danger of devolving into a silly Wise Men of Chelm story were not for Gross’s excellent writing and the serious philosophical........

© The Times of Israel


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