Mohr: A Novel

Fred­er­ick Reuss
  • Review
By – June 25, 2012
This unusu­al wartime love sto­ry is punc­tu­at­ed by near­ly 50 actu­al pho­tographs from the 1920s and 30s, uncov­ered by the author in Ger­many while research­ing an uncle his fam­i­ly knew lit­tle about. Reuss cre­ates the tale of his uncle Max Mohr, who was an exiled Jew­ish play­wright, nov­el­ist and physi­cian. He leaves Berlin with his gen­tile wife, Kathe, and moves to a farm­house where she rais­es their daugh­ter Eva while he com­mutes to work in Berlin. Mohr then decides to move, alone, to Shang­hai because of ris­ing dan­ger for Jews in Ger­many. The book describes Mohr’s con­flict­ing long­ings for home and for adven­ture, his ide­al­ism as a doc­tor and a writer, his feel­ing of being a per­pet­u­al out­sider, his ambiva­lence as an apo­lit­i­cal Jew. We hear his philo­soph­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions with oth­er expats in the set­tle­ment” in Shang­hai and see his com­pas­sion­ate con­tact with the locals. I was tru­ly tak­en by the story’s beau­ti­ful dream­like descrip­tions and haunt­ing fore­bod­ing of tragedy.
Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams is a Cuban-born, Brook­lyn-raised, Long Island-resid­ing mom. She is Hadas­sah Nas­sau’s One Region One Book chair­la­dy, a free­lance essay­ist, and a cer­ti­fied yoga instruc­tor who has loved review­ing books for the JBC for the past ten years.

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