Lev Raphael has written 19 books of fiction and non-fiction in over a 30-year period. The son of German Holocaust survivors, he grew up hating everything German, as so many of the second generation have. In addition to his heritage, he finally revealed that he was gay.
After his mother’s death, he decided to do research in the country that had enslaved his parents. After that, he received several lucrative offers to take his book on tour in Germany.
Those books, many on Jewish subjects, made him a celebrity, and he was very well treated. He learned to accept all things in modern Germany and basked in the popularity he received. He said he discovered not so much a new Germany but a new self, “someone unafraid to face the past and transcend it.” His revealing of his sexual orientation and his acceptance of Germany came at the same time.
Sadness enveloped his childhood. The family lived with ghosts: It was prosperous in Vilna, but like most Jews between the two world wars, Raphael’s family lived in poverty, depending on assistance from foreign Jewish charity or relatives abroad.
Although the book is publicized as a memoir of the Holocaust, it is essentially devoted to the author’s experience as a modern writer on book tours in Germany, and his homosexuality. His success in Germany changed all his former hostility to adulation. What would his parents think?