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Anansi Fall 2012

The Emperor of Lies
By (author): Steve Sem-Sandberg Translated by: Sarah Death
Steve Sem-Sandberg ,

Translated by :

Sarah Death


Anansi International - Toronto



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Aug 18, 2012
$19.95 CAD


8.81in x 5.75 x 1.42 in | 1.36 lb

Page Count:

672 pages
House of Anansi Press Inc
Anansi International
FICTION / Literary
Globe and Mail Top 100 Book 2011, Commended Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012, Long-listed IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2013, Long-listed

Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

In February 1940, the Nazis established what would become the second-largest Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Lódz. Its chosen leader: Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski, a sixty-three-year-old Jewish businessman and orphanage director ? and the elusive, authoritarian power sustaining the ghetto’s very existence. 

From one of Sweden’s most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors, The Emperor of Lies chronicles the tale of Rumkowski’s monarchical rule over a quarter-million Jews for the next four years. Driven by a titanic ambition, he sought to transform the ghetto into a productive industrial complex and strove to make it --and himself ? indispensable to the Nazi regime. Drawing on the detailed records of life in the Lódz ghetto, Steve Sem-Sandberg captures the full panorama of human resilience and probes deeply into the nature of evil. He asks the most difficult questions: Was Rumkowski a ruthless opportunist, an accessory to the Nazi regime driven by a lust for power? Or was he a pragmatic strategist who managed to save Jewish lives through his collaboration policies?

Winner of the August Prize, Sweden’s most important literary award, The Emperor of Lies is a haunting, profoundly challenging novel.

Steve Sem-Sandberg was born in 1958. He divides his time between Vienna and Stockholm.

Sarah Death is a translator, literary scholar, and editor of the UK-based journal Swedish Book Review. She lives in England.

Steve Sem-Sandberg recreates the ghetto with intelligent meticulousness and passionate invention . . . [a] masterly novel. - Anna Paterson, Independent

[Steve Sem-Sandberg] writes with extraordinary detail . . . terribly moving . . . [The Emperor of Lies] succeeds admirably in chronicling the horrors of everyday life in the Lodz ghetto. - Publishers Weekly

The Emperor of Lies is a novel about heart-wrenching suffering and extraordinary evil, transformed by [Steve] Sem-Sandberg's talents into an irresistible work of fiction, absorbing from first page to last . . . Dickens would have been very pleased with this novel. - Carmen Callil, Guardian

. . . extraordinary . . . a brilliantly sustained work of historical fiction. - Ian Thomson, Telegraph

. . . utterly convincing, rich in sympathy and understanding . . . It is a harrowing document, into which Sem-Sandberg's breathes life . . . - Allan Massie, Scotsman

The author brings all the characters vividly to life. Through Sem-Sandberg's richly compelling narrative, this story of heart-wrenching suffering and extraordinary evil is absorbing from beginning to end. - Mary Ann Elliott, Toowoomba Chronicle

The story of Lodz is, through any prism, a grim tale. But, if it must be told (and, for all the pain, it must) then it is in redeeming hands with Sem-Sandberg. - Madeleine Kingsley, Jewish Chronicle

. . . to date, no novel has inquired so profoundly or resonantly into the labyrinths of a heart and soul and mind like Rumkowski's -- or made reading it so vital or compelling an obligation. - Neil Besner, Winnipeg Free Press

. . . a stunning achievement . . . [Steve] Sem-Sandberg is a highly skilled writer. - Elise Moser, Rover Arts

The Emperor of Lies is a chilling and illuminating look at a period of history that has been analyzed and reconstructed before, but rarely in quite so three-dimensional a fashion. - Daphne Merkin, New York Times

. . . a masterful achievement -- spare, harrowing, and profoundly sad. - Kevin Power, Sunday Business Post

... a brilliantly constructed novel, massive, detailed, teeming with characters; it captures the reader from almost the first page and does not let go ... - Anna Porter, Globe and Mail

The history of the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos has been amply recorded, documented and depicted elsewhere, in archives and in fiction. But to date, no novel has inquired so profoundly or resonantly into the labyrinths of a heart and soul and mind like Rumkowski’s -- or made reading it so vital or compelling an obligation. - Neil Besner, Ottawa Citizen

... an engaging writer ... [Steve Sem-Sandberg] has turned the rare trick of writing about the Holocaust in a way that takes us beyond the theme of epic Nazi evil that otherwise overpowers the entire genre. - Jonathan Kay, National Post

Utterly involving, morally scrupulous, written with a verve and pace that belie its dreadful setting, The Emperor of Lies -- in Sarah Death's masterly translation -- really does renew the genre. - Boyd Tonkin, Independent

... phenomenal ... Sem-Sandberg deftly mixes fiction and fact in The Emperor of Lies ... a remarkable work. - Cynthia Ramsay, Jewish Independent

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