The Warsaw Anagrams
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The Warsaw Anagrams

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  574 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Warsaw, 1941-an exhausted and elderly psychiatrist named Erik Cohen makes his way home to the Jewish ghetto after being interned in a Nazi labor camp. Yet only one visionary man-Heniek Corben- can see him and hear him. Heniek soon realizes that Cohen has become an ibbur-a spirit. But how and why has he taken this form?

As Cohen recounts his disturbing and moving story, sma

Hardcover, REprint edition, 336 pages
Published June 30th 2011 by Overlook (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Although the narrative of this book is driven by the murder of one small boy, it is primarily a book about the Holocaust and the mass murder of millions. Despite this, it is however an essentially optimistic book, as it is about the survival of the human spirit and the will to live set against the backdrop of the complete disintegration of basic human moral values - the Nazi terror and their "Final Solution".

Erik is the narrator of the novel, yet he is already dead like virtually everyone else w...more
I reproduce the note I sent to the author:
A few years ago I read "The Last Kabbalist" without knowing anything about you, only because I liked the subject matter (kabbalists and Portugal). I really enjoyed it, but nothing prepared me for the Warsaw Anagrams. We may sometimes exaggerate in the flush of enthusiasm upon finishing a novel, but I am pretty confident I will not change mind about this: this is one of the greatest novels I have ever read, an absolute masterpiece.
It is moving, funny, de...more
Maria João Fernandes
"Se querem certezas, então receio que tenham de ler uma história sobre outro tempo e outro lugar. E outros homens, e outras mulheres. Em Varsóvia, em 1941, não tínhamos nenhumas para vos dar."

Os acontecimentos narrados no livro "Os Anagramas de Varsóvia" têm como palco uma paisagem obscura manchada pelo nazismo. Richard Zimler não escreveu apenas um romance histórico, mas sim um enredo poderoso, caracterizado por personagens reais, envoltas numa atmosfera de mistério.

O leitor viaja, através de u...more
I enjoyed this historical thriller set in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. The central mystery, involving the murder and mutilation of Jewish children in the Warsaw ghetto, is set against the larger injustices of the Holocaust as a whole, making for a read which is both intriguing and heartbreaking. There is a poignancy to this story and its characters which transcends the genre of suspense. Very well-done.
The question of what it takes to survie in times of trial is a hard one. The question of what happened then and what happened to are even harder. The hardest, perhaps, is what happens after. This book offers answers to those questions. Set in the Warsaw Ghetto, prior to its uprising and liquidation, the book is part mystery, part deep thought, and all good.

In America, while we have our guilt over the second World War (Japanese/Italian/German interment), we also had it easier in the war's afterma...more
Steve Anderson
This review originally ran in Noir Journal:

In October 1940, Warsaw's German occupiers ordered that Jews be rounded up and crammed into neighborhoods that took up only two percent of the city. This was the Warsaw Ghetto: Specially erected high walls, barbed wire and sadistic guards doomed Warsaw's Jews to grim and brutal ways that were only just beginning.

One of the doomed is an elderly Jew, Erik Cohen, once a prominent psychiatrist. Erik gets by but is al...more
Dr Erik Cohen returns to the Warsaw ghetto at the start of this book and relays his story to a stranger who transcribes it. As he's supposedly telling this to someone familiar with life in the ghetto, the text doesn't include much description on the environment. Whilst it makes sense it doesn't add to the book and I found it hard to picture the streets in which they lived so closely. It does however convey a sense of desperation and, above all, a lack of something we all take for granted, nouris...more
Charles Weinblatt
The Warsaw Anagrams is a fast-moving, powerful and intellectual murder mystery set within wartime Warsaw Poland during World War II.

Author Richard Zimler carries the reader deep into the daily life of Jews trapped within the horrific Nazi genocide. His striking portrayal of diverse characters is poignant and touching. Zimler proffers a salient and tender examination of the courage and fortitude exhibited by imprisoned Jews seeking only to survive one day at a time, layered upon a striking murde...more
Tim Lepczyk
In The Warsaw Anagrams, byRichard Zimler,the narrator, Erik Cohen, searches for the people who killed his nephew and two other children. He's a psychiatrist, who was once respected, but now must deal with the hardships of the ghetto and the change in his station. While still respected, he's no longer one of the elite as the ghetto has destroyed the social order from the "Before Times." The voice of Cohen is rich and unique. Zimler stays with him throughout the novel and creates a solid character...more
Alison Kennedy
This was such a sad book. It can be categorised in the detective fiction section but is not what I would call a 'traditional' detective book. Set within the Warsaw ghetto, it shows people when they are at their most desperate - but also most humane. The main characters all seem to have a certain amount of desperation and some have become hopeless with this. However, others (the 'main' character) have devised a purpose for themselves which makes them want to fight on and eventually dare to dream....more
A blurb on the dust jacket of this book compared it to The Shadow of the Wind. I can see the comparison. Both books are essentially shaggy dog mysteries in which the mystery looses its effect in the meandering of the telling. In this case we're in the Warsaw Ghetto rather than Franco's Spain, but the doom and gloom are as palpable. In fact, doom and gloom overwhelm to the extent that fatalism is the prime effect of the novel. There are likable and interesting characters in this book - especially...more
This was an intriguing book to read. I would catagorise it as holocaust fiction but it is also a detective/crime book. Set within the Warsaw ghetto which I would think it portrays with a degree of histrical accuracy, it shows how the inmates were affected, and how inhumanely they were treated by the Nazis. The main focal point is the killing of a child, and the attempts of his uncle to uncover the killer and solve the crime. The book then has all the elements of a whodunnit novel, albeit in a ra...more
This is the second book I have read by Zimmler and like the first,it doesnt disappoint.I came to it by way of a reading group choice and I had my reservations, wondering if I was ready for some grim and harrowing stuff.However, I'm glad I read it. What makes this different, from what we all know through watching WW2 documentaries, is that Zimmler portrays his characters as possessing wit,warmth and compassion but he never lets us move very far away from the rotten vegetables and lack of soap. Er...more
Set in the Warsaw ghetto in 1940-41. Erik Cohen is an elderly psychiatrist living with his niece and nine year old her son. The boy disappears on a smuggling excursion outside the ghetto. His body is found hanging on its barbed wire fence, and his leg has been cut off. While Eric is trying to deal with his grief and loss, he hears of another child whose body, missing a hand, has been found under similar circumstances.

Partly the story of Eric's attempt to find out who is killing the children, par...more
It is not the best amateur detective plot in the world but the setting made it a very interesting read. The holocaust was dealt with with respect and integrity.
Set in the Warsaw ghetto during 1941, it features a psychologist certain that his nephew was deliberately murdered. Amidst the graphic and realistic depiction of the horrors of life in the ghetto with its pervasive aura of slow death by starvation, disease and brutality, the solving of a single crime seems odd - but it is an obsession which keeps Dr Cohen alive. And even after death his spirit survives to tell the story.

It is a clever well contructed novel, well written. I would willingly have...more
Mike Dettinger
A really excellent mystery set in the Warsaw ghetto in the Nazi years. The mystery is well done, the character portraits engaging, but I think I mostly was just swept away by Erik (the central character, an elderly psychiatrist struggling with this impossibly dire condition and all the horrors personal and community heaping upon him) and especially his incrdibly wise sad voice. Oh to be able to write something as wise as this.

BTW I *did* mostly skip the front and end matter about Erik relaying...more
Richard Zimler (The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon) has written another extraordinary book. Narrated by Dr. Erik Cohen, a recently deceased 67-year old psychiatrist, it is the story of the doctor's search for the murderer of his grand-nephew, Adam, whose mutilated body is found on a section of the barbed wire fence that encloses the Warsaw ghetto. Unfortunately, Adam is but one of several Jewish children who have been mysteriously murdered, had a body part cut off and left entangled in the barbed wire...more
In the Warsaw Ghetto, in the midst of death, starvation and misery, Erik, a renowned psychiatrist, recognizes that "we owe uniqueness to our dead." When a series of Jewish children are murdered, Erik sets out to find the culprits. This is a realistically detailed historical novel with believable characters. In the direst situations people are capable of kindness, loyalty, optimism--and retaliation.
Tragic and poignant tale of murder and survival inside (and outside) a Jewish ghetto in Poland. Things that people should never have to contemplate, nor decide, are the driving force of this historical fiction. We are led through a maze of connections and anagrams that lead to a bitter end. Loved this book.
Lee Ann
A very moving story of a murder in Warsaw in the 1930's. The beginnings of the Warsaw "ghetto" and the lives of many of the residents in addition to the Christian side also. Well written and moving. I am sure as I travel there this summer, this story will haunt me as Henick Corben was haunted by Erik.
Apesar de achar que este livro de romance policial tem pouco, não deixa de valer a pena lê-lo. Uma história comovente que nos descreve um gueto judaico de Varsóvia. Uma narrativa passada durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial sobre os judeus que sobreviveram ao Holocausto.
Uma obra para ler e aprender.
This was a tough book to read, and also raised some interesting questions. Like - how could people (everyday people, not psychopaths) commit atrocities? The mystery itself was secondary, for me. I'm not a mystery-lover in general, though I was pulled to find out whodunit and why.
Dense yet hugely readable historical whodunnit. Set in the Warsaw ghetto during the German occupation, it's obviously going to be a tearjerker, but for all it's deeply emotional, it's not maudlin and the narrative is never dropped in favour of tugging the heartstrings.
A beautiful, harrowing story of life in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. We hear of the unspeakable crimes committed against the Jews and yet the story is also filled with love so beautifully told. It left a huge impact on me.
O livro é um bocadinho confuso e só por isso não dou mais pontuação, sentia-me meio perdida no meio da história, das notas... É muito interessante do ponto de vista histórico, mais do que do mistério, e acabei à mesma confundida :)
Ao fim de tantos anos e tantas histórias sobre o sofrimento de Judeus ainda me consigo revoltar. Só não atirei com o livro à parede, devido à raiva que senti, porque é realmente bom..tal como todos que li do autor.
Um thriller histórico passado no gueto judaico de Varsóvia, que serve como pretexto para analisar o melhor e o pior que pode existir dentro de cada ser humano. Vai certamente perdurar na minha memória!
Thos is a harrowing book and I'm not too sure I liked it. I couldn't stop reading it though and felt satisfied that I had finished it. Not for the faint hearted.
As with all Zimler books of this kind, I really enjoyed it.
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Richard Zimler was born in Roslyn Heights, a suburb of New York City, in 1956. After earning a bachelor's degree in comparative religion from Duke University (1977) and a master's degree in journalism from Stanford University (1982), he worked for eight years as a journalist, mainly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1990, he moved to Porto, Portugal, and he has taught journalism for the last sixte...more
More about Richard Zimler...
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (The Sephardic Cycle, #1) Hunting Midnight (The Sephardic Cycle, #2) The Seventh Gate Guardian of the Dawn (The Sephardic Cycle, #3) A Sentinela

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