** A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman


There’s much to love in A Replacement Life, in which a young New York writer, grandchild of Holocaust survivors, undertakes to write fake letters to the Holocaust restitution commission on behalf of this grandfather, at first, and then more and more seniors in his circle. The letters he writes are a novel within the novel. They sound like the truth because they are the truth, for someone else. But they don’t sound at all like real letters, since, for one thing, they are written in way too fluent English — and that will create trouble for the author. The letters, and the complicated relationship with his grandfather, are what attracted me to the novel. For the rest, the author’s boring job in a magazine and his complicated, yet dull relationship with his girlfriend never seem to come together in a coherent second narrative.

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