The Lost

Daniel Mendelsohn

‘The Lost’ is the story of an odyssey in search of six ghosts. Daniel Mendelsohn grew up in a family haunted by the disappearance of six relatives during the Holocaust – an unmentionable subject that gripped the author’s imagination from his earliest childhood. Decades later, spurred by the discovery of a cache of desperate letters written to his grandfather in 1939, Mendelsohn embarked on a hunt for the remaining eyewitnesses to his relatives’ fates. That quest eventually took him to a dozen countries on three continents, including Ukraine, Poland, Israel, Australia, Sweden and Denmark – an epic journey that gradually exposed the tragic conflicts that can arise between the history we live and the stories we tell. Deftly moving between past and present, interweaving reportage with richly evoked childhood memories of a now-lost generation of immigrant Jews, ‘The Lost’ transforms the story of one family into a profound meditation on our fragile hold on the past. Grippingly suspenseful and beautifully written, this literary tour de force brilliantly illuminates all that is lost, and found, in the passage of time.

Reviews of The Lost

  • ‘Daniel Mendelsohn has written a powerfully moving work of a ‘lost’ family past, reminiscent of the richly expansive prose works of Proust and the elusive texts of W.G. Sebald. A remarkable achievement.’ Joyce Carol Oates

    ‘Epic and personal, meditative and suspenseful, tragic and at times hilarious, “The Lost” is a wonderful book.’ Jonathan Safran Foer

    ‘From the particulars of his family, he helps each of us understand our own…an exceptional book rich in the best of what we are.’ Times

    ‘Hugely ambitious yet intensely engaging, Mendelsohn draws us more deeply into the experience of the larger catastrophe than we might have thought possible. The result is a new way of telling a story we thought we knew.’ New York Times

    ‘[Mendelsohn] is a brilliant storyteller, influenced by the Greek masters he so admires, eschewing the chronological, looping forward and back, teasing the reader with hints of what the gods may have in store.’ Sunday Times

    ‘What distinguishes “The Lost” is that it is not, in the end really about the Holocaust, or at least not only…[it] is something richer and rarer. “The Lost” becomes a book that is also about the meaning of memory and the act of storytelling…[it] is a captivating and haunting book.’ Daily Mail

    ‘This is a beautiful, challenging and finally haunting read.’ The Scotsman

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