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A REPLACEMENT LIFE
Cover of A REPLACEMENT LIFE
A REPLACEMENT LIFE
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A failing young Russian American journalist's life is unexpectedly transformed when he forges Holocaust restitution claims for his rogue grandfather and his friends
Slava Gelman wants to be a great writer, but can't get past his job as a lowly researcher at a New York magazine. Then his beloved grandmother dies, and his grandfather corners him with a request: to write a few Holocaust retribution claims that aren't quite true. Slava is reluctant, but when he gets into it, his semi-fictional accounts of a generation's real suffering turn out to be the best writing he has ever done - and a surprisingly wonderful way for Slava to reconnect with his family and his own roots. Although he lives in fear of discovery and continues to stumble from one tragicomic incident to another, by the time Slava is finally confronted by a German government employee he is ready to play a role that is - almost - heroic. A beautifully written, emotionally powerful literary debut about family love, memory and the truth in fiction.
Boris Fishmanwas born in Minsk, Belarus, in 1979 and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He is the editor ofWild East: Stories from the Last Frontier, and his work has appeared in theNew Yorker,The New York Times Magazine,New Republic,Wall Street Journal,London Review of Books,New York Times Book Reviewand other publications. He lives in New York City.A Replacement Lifeis his first novel.
'A Replacement Lifeis a memorable debut by a wonderfully gifted young writer... Boris Fishman has written a beautifully nuanced, tender, and often very funny novel about conscience and familial loyalty that will linger long in the memory' - Joyce Carol Oates
'Is there room in American fiction for another brilliant young émigré writer? There had better be, because here he is. Boris Fishman's first novel,A Replacement Life, is bold, ambitious and wickedly smart... The only problem with this novel is that its covers are too close together. I wanted more' - Patricia T. O'Conner,New York Times Book Review
'Astonishingly brilliant... we are left satisfyingly provoked by the book's deeper questions about culture and ethics and survival and human nature itself' -Chicago Tribune
'Mordantly funny and moving' -The New York Times
'So strong in voice, humor, and compassion that it transcends fiction's limitations to become something wilder and more contained - like life. What a remarkable debut - true and resonate, humorous and real' - Hilton Als
'Shines with a love for language and craft' - starred review,Publishers Weekly
'Fishman fearlessly tackles the grandest subjects... a writer not only to watch but envy' - Tom Bissell
'A terrific talent... a gifted and accomplished writer' - Salvatore Scibona
'Stunning...A Replacement Lifedeserves a wide audience' - Jim Harrison
'A novel that works beautifully on many levels' - Arthur Phillips
'A hell of a book. Told with amazing virtuosity, fun and serious, funny and sad, profound and eminently readable' - Darin Strauss
'Suffused with elegant language and sly humor and composed with the authority of a novelist on intimate terms with both his subject matter and art form' - Teddy Wayne, author ofThe Love Song of Jonny Valentine
'There's a touch of Gogol here, a touch of Babel, a touch of Dostoyevsky, but... Boris Fishman has fashioned something distinctively and triumphantly his own' - Brian Morton, author ofStarting Out in the Evening

A failing young Russian American journalist's life is unexpectedly transformed when he forges Holocaust restitution claims for his rogue grandfather and his friends
Slava Gelman wants to be a great writer, but can't get past his job as a lowly researcher at a New York magazine. Then his beloved grandmother dies, and his grandfather corners him with a request: to write a few Holocaust retribution claims that aren't quite true. Slava is reluctant, but when he gets into it, his semi-fictional accounts of a generation's real suffering turn out to be the best writing he has ever done - and a surprisingly wonderful way for Slava to reconnect with his family and his own roots. Although he lives in fear of discovery and continues to stumble from one tragicomic incident to another, by the time Slava is finally confronted by a German government employee he is ready to play a role that is - almost - heroic. A beautifully written, emotionally powerful literary debut about family love, memory and the truth in fiction.
Boris Fishmanwas born in Minsk, Belarus, in 1979 and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He is the editor ofWild East: Stories from the Last Frontier, and his work has appeared in theNew Yorker,The New York Times Magazine,New Republic,Wall Street Journal,London Review of Books,New York Times Book Reviewand other publications. He lives in New York City.A Replacement Lifeis his first novel.
'A Replacement Lifeis a memorable debut by a wonderfully gifted young writer... Boris Fishman has written a beautifully nuanced, tender, and often very funny novel about conscience and familial loyalty that will linger long in the memory' - Joyce Carol Oates
'Is there room in American fiction for another brilliant young émigré writer? There had better be, because here he is. Boris Fishman's first novel,A Replacement Life, is bold, ambitious and wickedly smart... The only problem with this novel is that its covers are too close together. I wanted more' - Patricia T. O'Conner,New York Times Book Review
'Astonishingly brilliant... we are left satisfyingly provoked by the book's deeper questions about culture and ethics and survival and human nature itself' -Chicago Tribune
'Mordantly funny and moving' -The New York Times
'So strong in voice, humor, and compassion that it transcends fiction's limitations to become something wilder and more contained - like life. What a remarkable debut - true and resonate, humorous and real' - Hilton Als
'Shines with a love for language and craft' - starred review,Publishers Weekly
'Fishman fearlessly tackles the grandest subjects... a writer not only to watch but envy' - Tom Bissell
'A terrific talent... a gifted and accomplished writer' - Salvatore Scibona
'Stunning...A Replacement Lifedeserves a wide audience' - Jim Harrison
'A novel that works beautifully on many levels' - Arthur Phillips
'A hell of a book. Told with amazing virtuosity, fun and serious, funny and sad, profound and eminently readable' - Darin Strauss
'Suffused with elegant language and sly humor and composed with the authority of a novelist on intimate terms with both his subject matter and art form' - Teddy Wayne, author ofThe Love Song of Jonny Valentine
'There's a touch of Gogol here, a touch of Babel, a touch of Dostoyevsky, but... Boris Fishman has fashioned something distinctively and triumphantly his own' - Brian Morton, author ofStarting Out in the Evening

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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 10, 2014
    The debut novel from Fishman shines with a love for language and craft. Minsk-born 25-year-old Slava Gelman has made it to the bottom of top-tier journalism. He’s junior staff at Century magazine, and he’s just been given a shot at a byline. But the death of his Holocaust-survivor grandmother throws self-involved Slava’s life out of focus. His grandfather—a quick-to-brag but resourceful man who “gets things”—pressures Slava into forging a restitution claim letter for Slava’s deceased grandmother, then spreads the news around his South Brooklyn neighborhood of Slava’s availability to write such fraudulent letters. Soon, Slava finds himself sharing secrets with strangers whose war stories, full of “the oddly specific details he had come to learn make a narrative feel authentic,” leave him feeling much closer to his grandmother. Fishman’s description of the precious information that grandparents pass down is beautiful; their memories have been a burden for Slava, whose grandfather’s meandering stories about Soviet life leave him “feeling like a failure because he was letting gold slip away in a fast-moving river,” but he learns their real value in the course of this forging scheme. Writers like Slava, and like Fishman, have a responsibility to do justice to the beauty in the details, and Fishman achieves that handily here.

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    Pushkin Press
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A REPLACEMENT LIFE
A REPLACEMENT LIFE
Boris Fishman
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