A REPLACEMENT LIFE
by Boris Fishman
‘Piercing, witty and enviably well written’ New Statesman
‘The real thing... Fishman is at his best... in the disputed territory between truth and lies’ Observer
‘Funny and astute’ Sunday Times
‘Fishman’s ability to handle the highly complex moral ambiguities as well as his laugh-out-loud one-liners make this a brilliant tragicomedy – one that almost matches Howard Jacobson at his best’ Christina Appleyard, Daily Mail
‘Mordantly funny and moving’ The New York Times
‘A Replacement Life is a memorable debut by a wonderfully gifted young writer... Boris Fishman has written a beautifully nuanced, tender, and often very funny novel about conscience and familial loyalty that will linger long in the memory’ Joyce Carol Oates
‘Slava,’ a waterlogged voice – his mother’s – whispered in Russian. He felt anger, then something less certain. Anger because he had said not to call. The other because generally she obeyed nowadays. ‘Your grandmother isn’t,’ she said. She burst into tears.
Isn’t. Verbiage was missing. In Russian, you didn’t need the adjective to complete the sentence, but in English, you did. In English, she could still be alive.
Young Russian immigrant Slava Gelman wants to be a great American writer, but is only a researcher at a New Yorker-style magazine. When his beloved grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, dies, his grandfather corners him with a request: could he forge a few Holocaust restitution claims? Slava resists at first, but eventually his semi-fictional accounts turn out to be the best writing he has ever done. Although he lives in fear of discovery and continues to stumble from one tragicomic incident to the another, by the time Slava is finally confronted by a German government employee he is ready to play a role that is – almost – heroic.
‘Bold, ambitious and wickedly smart... The only problem with this novel is that its covers are too close together. I wanted more’ Patricia T. O'Conner, New York Times Book Review
‘A powerful yet tender narrative that explores the tug of war between the past and the future for immigrant families in America’ Newsweek
‘Ingenious’ New Yorker
‘Astonishingly brilliant’ Chicago Tribune
Published on 11/09/2014