Awake in the Dark
Published by Scribner : Reprint Edition September 2007
Bold and deeply affecting, Awake in the Dark is a provocative and haunting work of fiction about who we are and how we are formed by history. These luminous stories portray the contemporary lives of the children of Holocaust victims and perpetrators as they struggle with the legacy of their parents — their questions of identity, family, and faith. In “The House on Kronenstrasse,” a woman returns to Germany to find her childhood home; in “The Porcelain Monkey,” the shocking origins of an Orthodox Jewish woman’s faith are revealed; in “The Lamp,” the harrowing experiences of a young woman leave her with the perfect daughter and a strange light; and in “Dark Urgings of the Blood,” a patient is convinced that she shares a disturbing history with her psychiatrist.
Rendered in powerful, unaffected prose, Awake in the Dark is an illuminating and startling book about the disguises we don, the secrets we keep, and the consequences of our silences.
“There’s breathtaking storytelling here, replete with psychological detail and stunning clarity”
— Library Journal (Starred Review)
“I’m shaken by Shira Nayman’s brilliant and mystical stories. She writes with wisdom and courage about the devastating heritage that separates and yet links the descendents of Holocaust victims and perpetrators”
— Ursula Hegi, author of Sacred Time and Stones from the River
“Soulful and deftly plotted, these stories about the children of Holocaust survivors remind us that we’re each the sum of personal histories, known and unknown”
— More Magazine
“It is to Nayman’s great credit that her subtle handling of extremely dramatic material allows the reader to be deeply moved without feeling manipulated. Awake in the Dark quietly and forcefully insists that despite every wish to remain asleep, comforted by unconsciousness, we are all much better served by opening our eyes to the truth”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Nayman’s stories hauntingly and beautifully unveil the depths of her characters. Each story is full of twists and secrets, yet each has an openess that makes history immediate. Without ever preaching about the Holocaust, Nayman shows how good and evil actions reverberate through the generations”
— Book Passage
“The even, plainspoken prose of this collection turns evocative and haunting upon reflection. Filled with the children of Holocaust victims and participants, these are tales of almost mystical connection that look back to a time that was, indeed, haunting”
— Book Sense "October Pick"
“The bleak, beautiful and deftly plotted stories in Shira Nayman’s “Awake in the Dark” (Scribner) are like nothing out there, taking as their theme the collateral damage of Nazism, delivered in many cases with an O. Henry twist.”
— Newsday "Our Favorite Books of 2006"
“Imagine a collaboration between O. Henry and Cynthia Ozick. If you can’t, then do read the wonderful stories in Shira Nayman’s collection Awake in the Dark”
— Susan Isaacs, author of Past Perfect and Any Place I Hang My Hat
“How can you know who you are when deception and secrets are your birthright? With compelling prose and satisfying twists, Shira Nayman reveals the awful burdens carried by people born into dark times, and how those burdens are inherited by their own uncomprehending children. This book will resonate with anyone who has buried a parent without ever knowing who that person was, but it will be especially important to the Holocaust’s grandchildren”
— Mary Doria Russell, author of The Thread of Grace and Sparrow