Launch Party for The Canvas by Benjamin Stein (translated from the German by Brian Zumhagen)

October 23, 2012
9:00 pm - 11:30 pm

Open Letter Books calls The Canvas a “mind-bending investigation of memory, identity, truth, and delusion… the publishing event of the year, a novel whose meaning depends on the order in which it is read”.  Book Kaleidoscope calls it number 1 in the most intriguing book of the fall, 2012. And, The German Book Office of New York selected it as the September Book of the Month.

Translated from the original German, this book is loosely based on the true story of Binjamin Wilkomirski who famously fabricated a Holocaust memoir in the 1990s. The story, which layers symbolism and philosophy with beautiful descriptions of Jewish tradition and teachings explores the idea of memory and employs a highly creative structure. The two interconnecting stories are told from the perspective of two protagonists--Jan Weschler, an Orthodox Jew living in Germany who travels to Israel to solve a mystery, and Amnon Zichroni, a talented psychoanalyst who was born into a strict German, Orthodox Jewish community but sent to Switzerland to be educated out of the community--with each story beginning at either end of the book until the characters meet in the middle. Where you begin reading is up to you, or to chance. 

According to Open Letter Books, Brian Zumhagen, the translator, manages to capture each narrator’s distinctive voice, portraying the two male protagonists as the author envisioned them and succeeding at accomplishing a pitch-perfect pace.