Poetic, witty, and ever so faintly surreal, Seferdelicately explores the legacy of the Holocaust for the postwargeneration, a generation for whom a devastating history has growndistant, both temporally and emotionally. The novel’sprotagonist, Jan Sefer, is a psychotherapist living inVienna—someone whose professional life puts him in daily contactwith the traumas of others but who has found it difficult to addresshis own family background, especially his memories of his father.During a two-week trip to his father’s birthplace, Kraków—avisit he has long postponed—he begins to sort out some of hisfeelings and to connect with a past the memory of which is swiftlydisintegrating. Much like memory itself, Sefer speaks to usobliquely, through the juxtaposition of images and vignettes ratherthan through the construction of a linear narrative. With itsfragmentary structure and its preference for hints rather thanexplanations, the novel belongs to the realm of the postmodern, whileit also incorporates subtle elements of magical realism.
One of Poland’s best-known poets, Ewa Lipska is today a majorfigure in European literature. In their translation of Sefer,Lipska’s first novel, translators Barbara Bogoczek and TonyHoward deftly capture the poet’s unmistakable voice—cooland precise, gently ironic, and deeply humane.
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