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Awake in the Dark


In her bold and remarkable collection of four stories and a novella Shira Nayman observes the intricate psychology of people struggling with the emotional legacy of the Nazis - focusing on ways in which the daughters of both victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust grew up with either unbearable tales of horror or debilitating silence. Each protagonist embarks on a journey of self-discovery that involves unearthing the dark secrets of their parents' tortured pasts.

In 'Dark Urgings of the Blood' a patient is convinced that she shares a disturbing history with her psychiatrist; in 'The House on Kronenstrasse' a woman returns to Germany to find her childhood home; in 'The Porcelain Monkey' the shocking story of an Orthodox Jewish woman's conception comes to light; and in 'The Lamp' the harrowing experiences of a young woman leave her with the perfect daughter and a strange lamp.

Written in clear and unaffected prose, Nayman's immensely powerful, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking collection explores the burden of history, the necessity of truth and the complex psychology of Holocaust survivors and their children. It is an illuminating and startling book about the stories we tell, the secrets we keep and the consequences of our silences.

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Shira Nayman grew up in Australia. She has a master's degree in comparative literature and a doctorate in clinical psychology, and has worked as a psychologist and a marketing consultant. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, New England Review, and Boulevard. The recipient of two grants from the Australia Council for the Arts Literature Board, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.

  • Publisher: Scribner (January 21, 2008)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743292818

"A haunting excursion into the past...Each story is a literary page-turner with a classic O. Henry twist."
-- The Atlantic Monthly

"The beautiful and deftly plotted stories in Awake in the Dark are like nothing out there."
-- Newsday

"I'm shaken by Shira Nayman's brilliant and mystical stories. She writes with wisdom and courage."
-- Ursula Hegi, author of The Worst Thing I've Done and Stones from the River

"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

"Brave and bracing...Awake in the Dark is plotted in that perfect way that stops our breath even as our brain hums with pleasure."
-- The Plain Dealer