The Book Of Dirt

The Book Of Dirt 1

by Bram Presser

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 11/09/2018

4/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $32.99 $21.98

**Winner of the NSW Premier's Award People's Choice Award 2018**

**Winner of the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction 2018**

**Winner of the UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Fiction 2018**

They chose not to speak and now they are gone. . .What's left to fill the silence is no longer theirs.

This is my story, woven from the threads of rumour and legend. Jakub Rand flees his village for Prague, only to find himself trapped by the Nazi occupation. Deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, he is forced to sort through Jewish books for a so-called Museum of the Extinct Race. Hidden among the rare texts is a tattered prayer book, hollow inside, containing a small pile of dirt.

Back in the city, Frantiska Roubickova picks over the embers of her failed marriage, despairing of her conversion to Judaism. When the Nazis summon her two eldest daughters for transport, she must sacrifice everything to save the girls from certain death. Decades later, Bram Presser embarks on a quest to find the truth behind the stories his family built around these remarkable survivors.

The Book of Dirt is a completely original novel about love, family secrets, and Jewish myths. And it is a heart-warming story about a grandson's devotion to the power of storytelling and his family's legacy.

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
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Text Publishing Co
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

4 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • a moving tale of survival with some fascinating as

    by on

    “I clicked on the most obvious icon, the Yad Vashem Shoah Names Database and typed in Jakub Rand. They all jumped out at me at once, an explosion of Jakub Rands, as if I had released their souls from the dusty white box that whirred innocuously beside me.”

    The Book Of Dirt is the first novel by Australian author, Bram Presser. In 1996, Jakub Rand lost the will to live, mere weeks after his wife, Dasa died. Both were Jews, from Prague; both had lived in the Theresienstadt ghetto during the German occupation of Czechoslovakia; both survived a period in Birkenau-Auschwitz concentration camp. Ten years after their deaths, their grandson, Bram Presser sets out to explore his grandfather’s wartime experience.

    With scant details to begin his search, Presser contacts relevant bodies to learn about Jakub’s role in a group that sorted Jewish artefacts and books, the Talmudkommando, for a Nazi project called the Museum of the Extinct Race, something that had been mentioned in an inaccurate Jewish Newspaper article. He visits family in Prague and discovers traces of his grandmother’s wartime activities of which he was unaware.

    Presser includes an array of helpful items that lend authenticity: photographs, a Guide to Czech Pronunciation, a Glossary of Hebrew and Czech words, and several maps. His Character list assists with the many similar names, and it’s a novel in which the author and his extended family play starring roles. From a childhood memory of his grandfather running his fingers through a patch of dirt, Presser conjures into his story a golem. With so little fact to go on, the reader may well ask “What is fact and what is fiction?” The author’s Note on Historical Sources goes some way to separating the two. This is a moving tale of survival with some fascinating aspects.