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Lies, First Person: Book summary and reviews of Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven

Lies, First Person

by Gail Hareven

Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven X
Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2015
    375 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the 2010 winner of the Best Translated Book Award comes a harrowing, controversial novel about a woman's revenge, Jewish identity, and how to talk about Adolf Hitler in today's world.

Elinor's comfortable life - popular newspaper column, stable marriage, well-adjusted kids - is totally upended when she finds out that her estranged uncle is coming to Jerusalem to give a speech asking forgiveness for his decades-old book, Hitler, First Person.

A shocking novel that galvanized the Jewish diaspora, Hitler, First Person was Aaron Gotthilf's attempt to understand - and explain - what it would have been like to be Hitler. As if that wasn't disturbing enough, while writing this controversial novel, Gotthilf stayed in Elinor's parent's house and sexually assaulted her "slow" sister.

In the time leading up to Gotthilf's visit, Elinor will relive the reprehensible events of that time so long ago, over and over, compulsively, while building up the courage - and plan - to avenge her sister in the most conclusive way possible: by murdering Gotthilf, her own personal Hilter.

Along the way to the inevitable confrontation, Gail Hareven uses an obsessive, circular writing style to raise questions about Elinor's mental state, which in turn makes the reader question the veracity of the supposed memoir that they're reading. Is it possible that Elinor is following in her uncle's writerly footpaths, using a first-person narrative to manipulate the reader into forgiving a horrific crime?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A rich and harrowing novel with plenty to say about religion and authorship." - Kirkus

"Well translated, the novel is tart and testy, filled with insight into writers' ability to lie, omit, and fabricate." - Publishers Weekly

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Author Information

Gail Hareven

Gail Hareven is the author of eleven novels, including The Confessions of Noa Weber, which won both the Sapir Prize for Literature and the Best Translated Book Award.

Dalya Bilu is the translator of A.B. Yehoshua, Aharon Appelfeld, and many others.

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