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Here There Is No Why

by Philip Graubart

Did Chaim Lerner, acclaimed Israeli author and Holocaust survivor, kill himself in 1983, thirty-eight years after surviving Auschwitz? If so, was it traumatic memories finally catching up to him? Or despair over Holocaust denialism? Or ordinary, difficult health issues—an aching hip, a damaged knee? Or simply a deadly episode of depression? Or, was it murder? In 2005, Judah Loeb, Lerner’s former student and now a struggling American journalist and single father, travels to Jerusalem to investigate Lerner’s death. He drags along his fifteen-year-old daughter Hannah, and they team up with Charlie, Judah’s former Hebrew University roommate, now a Jerusalem homicide detective. Their investigation takes them through the darker corners of the Israeli psyche, where they uncover secrets that threaten to destroy Lerner’s reputation and alter Jewish history. While probing the mysteries of Israel’s past, they encounter personal betrayal, heartbreak, and the fragile possibilities of forgiveness and redemption.

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