Book review: The Emperor of Lies, by Steve Sem-Sandberg

I don’t like writing book reviews. I like reading books and telling you I’ve read them, and maybe giving a thumbs up or down. Reviewing them requires mental effort that is better spent starting a new one. Nevertheless, I need to earn my little piece of blog space, so I will write something.

English: The footbridge over Zgierska Street t...

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The Emperor of Lies, by Steve Sem-Sandberg, is a fictional account of the surreal and appalling situation in the Jewish ghetto Lodz, Poland, during World War II. It is very well written (and translated from the author’s Swedish). I had some trouble keeping track of people and events, but that is at least partly because I tend to read too fast and don’t bother getting everything straight.

I prefer to read reviews after I’ve read the book, when I know what they are talking about. This book has received qute a range of commentary. Here is a straightforward National Post review that describes the book well. However, here is a review that bothers me although I can understand the points being made. The reviewer asks

  • “Should we fictionalize the Holocaust?  This is not only a literary question but a moral one as well.”

The review concludes with the statement

  • “And as for the 370,000 Swedes who have propelled Sem-Sandberg into the public eye, shame on them.”

I can’t agree with that.

One thought on “Book review: The Emperor of Lies, by Steve Sem-Sandberg

  1. sounds like the reviewer is simply trying to control the Holocaust narrative which is not uncommon. Like she said, the book made her angry.

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