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The Incandescent Threads

Zimler, Richard
Format: Paperback
Published: May 1, 2023
ISBN: 9781914595332
512 pages
Country of publication: United Kingdom


From the acclaimed author of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon and The Warsaw Anagrams comes an unforgettable, deeply moving ode to solidarity, heroism and the kind of love capable of overcoming humanity’s greatest horror.

Maybe none of us is ever aware of our true significance.

Benjamin Zarco and his cousin Shelly are the only two members of their family to survive the Holocaust. In the decades since, each man has learned, in his own unique way, to carry the burden of having outlived all the others, while ever wondering why he was spared.

Saved by a kindly piano teacher who hid him as a child, Benni suppresses the past entirely and becomes obsessed with studying kabbalah in search of the ‘Incandescent Threads’ – nearly invisible fibres that he believes link everything in the universe across space and time. But his mystical beliefs are tested when the birth of his son brings the ghosts of the past to his doorstep.

Meanwhile, Shelly – devastatingly handsome, charming and exuberantly bisexual – comes to believe that pleasures of the flesh are his only escape, and takes every opportunity to indulge his desires. That is, until he begins a relationship with a profoundly traumatised Canadian soldier and artist who helped to liberate Bergen-Belsen – and might just be connected to one of the cousins’ departed kin.

Across six non-linear mosaic pieces, we move from a Poland decimated by World War II to modern-day New York and Boston, hearing friends and relatives of Benni and Shelly tell of the deep influence of the beloved cousins on their lives. For within these intimate testimonies may lie the key to why they were saved and the unique bond that unites them.

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