cover image Incandescent Threads

Incandescent Threads

Richard Zimler. Parthian, $25 (512p) ISBN 978-1-91364-064-4

Zimler’s exceptional latest (after The Gospel According to Lazarus) explores the Kabbalistic belief that people are linked across millennia by a mystical light. The six sections range in time from 1944 to 2018, unspooling the riveting story of two cousins, Benni and Shelly Zarco, the only members of their family to survive the Holocaust. With a series of narrators, Zimler harnesses a sense of magic in the many links between the cousins, suggesting a structure to their fate, which provides reasons for why events happen and the ways the characters impact each other. For example, Benni’s son, Eti, recounts how his great-grandmother, gifted with “the sight” into the future, begged a policeman who was rounding up Jews to take her grandson’s place. Then Shelly’s wife, Julie, chronicles Shelly’s mission to find Benni in Poland, and a mystical experience in 1977 when Shelly’s 16 year old sister, Esther, who died in Treblinka, has come back to haunt him and inhabit his body. At the end, Zimler circles back to Eti, who supplies the missing piece of the puzzle that connects the Zarco family over generations. This is a richly drawn, original portrayal of tenacity and sacrifice. Agent: Nicole Witt, Mertin Witt Literary. (Nov.)