reviews & blurbs

“Once you have read the last line and closed the cover, the world will not look quite the same. This is fiction as art, the page as canvas.”
–Sam Dunn, author of Failing Paris and Not By Accident

“In her suspenseful, poetic, mysterious and profound novel The Memory Room, Mary Rakow addresses the big questions–how do we live with our knowledge of evil?  And then what do we do with this knowledge, and how can we reconcile it with an equally profound awareness of the depth  of the world’s beauty and the possibility of faith?  Approaching these fundamental issues not as a philosopher but as an artist using a subtle poet’s touch, she explores the great paradoxes of the human condition without simplification or denial.  The Memory Room  marks the rarest of occurrences—the debut of a literary master.”
–Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander and Paint It Black

“Powerfully imagined and profoundly insightful.”
Kirkus Review

“When I became aware that this book would be threading Paul Celan’s words all throughout its own texture, I wondered if an American novel’s contemporary language and concerns could sustain those of a tragic, brilliant Holocaust survivor.  But I needn’t have worried.  Mary Rakow has seamlessly, subtly composed her own memory fugue, distant from Celan yet profoundly connected.  It’s at once intense and crystalline on every page.”
–John Felstiner, author of Paul Celan, Poet, Survivor, Jew and Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan

“Haunting and profound, The Memory Room refracts personal history and puts it back together as powerful art. Reading this utterly unique—and very surprising—novel, is like being awake 150 consecutive nights, watching, exquisite brushstroke by brushstroke, the painting of a mural depicting the navigation of a human soul through the transcendent severities of love, unspeakable loss, exhaustive and bold questioning of beauty and faith itself.  Mary Rakow has written a daring, brilliant book.”
–Howard Norman, author of  The Museum Guard and The Haunting of L

“It is the moral seriousness of Rakow’s book, as much as the literary inventiveness, that elevates her work to the realm of literature.”
–Jonathan Kirsch, “Art After Auschwitz” The Los Angeles Times.

“With subtlety, restraint and an extraordinary eye for detail, Rakow has constructed a breathtaking debut that avoids the clichés of abuse narratives as it tests the boundaries of prose and poetry…. Drawing from the Psalms and the poems of Paul Celan, Rakow has written a novel that distills the mysteries of suffering, faith and salvation into a complex yet accessible whole. The horror of her tale is ultimately redressed by the sensitivity and skill with which it is told.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review.

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