The Final Opus of Leon Solomon

Jerome Badanes, Author Knopf Publishing Group $18.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-394-57221-5
A contribution to the ranks of Holo caust fiction, this first novel portrays the life of Leon Solomon, a Polish survivor arrested for plundering documents from the Judaica collection of the New York Public Library. The narrative is a prolonged rant that Solomon scribbles while holed-up in a fleabag hotel where he means to end his life. Bitterness, rage, sexual obsession and a considerable amount of psychotic delusion permeate his recollections of life in Poland before the war, of gun-running in Warsaw under the Nazis, Auschwitz and of his failure to connect significantly with his postwar American family. A desperate man, Solomon rationalizes his theft as a scholarly act of preservation. Failing in this attempt to possess the very history that has victimized and crippled him, he sees in suicide his only triumph. Badanes has created a complicated and intriguing narrator, but the novel founders because anger and craziness, even with built-in historical toeholds, are not enough. The horrors of the death camps have been fictionalized numerous times, and will no doubt continue to provide compelling material for writers yet unbornbut Badanes's novel, despite some brilliant moments, fails to move beyond its premise. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-671-70303-5
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