cover image The Girl with the Leica

The Girl with the Leica

Helena Janeczek, trans. from the Italian by Ann Goldstein. Europa, $18 trade paper (364p) ISBN 978-1-60945-547-7

Janeczek creatively and seamlessly spotlights war photographer Gerda Pohorylle, known professionally as Gerda Taro, in this fictionalized account of her life. Gerda’s short life (1910–1937) is chronicled from the viewpoint of the friends who knew her best; she was half of the alias Robert Capa, the photographer team of Gerda and her lover André Friedmann. While living in Buffalo, doctor Willy Chardack reminisces about Gerda when he receives a call in 1960 from another former lover, Georg Kuritzkes. Willy, known as “the Dachshund,” spent time with Gerda in pre-WWII Paris, where he continued his university studies while Gerda learned how to use a camera and supported the antifascist cause. Ruth Cerf highlights her friendship with the effervescent Gerda, who was thrilled as her photography career began to take off in 1930s Paris. Yet tragically, Gerda’s quest to rush into danger to photograph military action led to her death during the Spanish Civil War. Kuritzkes also remembers Gerda, the woman he once loved and who challenged him intellectually. Janeczek details the political unrest in pre-WWII Europe while instilling her novel with the indelible mark of Gerda’s presence and photographic genius. Fans of historical fiction featuring strong, forward-thinking female characters will be enthralled. (Oct.)