The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler

The Warsaw Anagrams

Richard Zimler

Set in the cramped squalor of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto, this darkly atmospheric story packs an emotional punch. Narrated by a dead man’s spirit this is no tale of heroic survival. The style is an intriguing mix of wartime brutality and an emotional insight into the harshness and yet humanity of everyday life; astounding courage contrasted with despair. As a fast-moving, psychoanalytical thriller this is much more than a holocaust tribute novel.


That night, I woke with a start and lit my carbide lamp, unsure now whether I’d really added her name. Staring at Stefa Liska, I wondered about the power of our names to alter our destiny, until the letters lifted off the paper. Soon, all the names of the dead – my dead – were floating in the pearly blue light, like butterflies kept aloft by a wind made of my own thoughts. The effect was pretty, but I knew it was only an optical trick; and yet the longer I kept my eyes on them, the more Stefa’s and Adam’s names seemed wrong – misspelled or mistakenly given to them. So I started rearranging their sequence of letters, which was when it occurred to me that this must have been why I’d made the list in the first place: to find the new names we ought to have given ourselves to protect us from the Germans and all the evils they’d brought with them.

  • The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst
  • Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
  • The Siege by Helen Dunmore

Books with similar mood

The Repentant Morning

Chris Paling


Eva-Marie Liffner

Waiting for an Angel

Helon Habila

The Man I Became

Peter Verhelst

Captain of the Steppe

Oleg Pavlov

The Kills

Richard House

The Dervish House

Ian McDonald

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

Helen Grant

Falling Out of Cars

Jeff Noon

The Lamplighter

Anthony O'Neill

A Dreamer's Paradise

David Karanja

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow

Peter Hoeg

White Ravens

Owen Sheers

The Concrete Sea

John Dalton


Michael Köhlmeier

The Association of Small Bombs

Karan Mahajan


Belinda Bauer


Karl Marlantes

Always the Sun

Neil Cross

The Dogs of Riga

Henning Mankell


Alan Garner

He Kills Coppers

Jake Arnott


Michael Cordy

The Woman Who Knew Too Much

B Reece Johnson

Dear Child

Romy Hausmann

The Shepherd's Hut

Tim Winton

The Second Rider

Alex Beer

The President's Gardens

Muhsin Al-Ramli

East of Hounslow

Khurrum Rahman

Just Another Jihadi Jane

Tabish Khair

Six Stories

Matt Wesolowski

In Praise of Hatred

Khaled Khalifa

The Golden Scales

Parker Bilal

Fire on the Mountain

Terry Bisson

Calling Out For You!

Karin Fossum

Boy A

Jonathan Trigell

News of a Kidnapping

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Last Girl

Stephan Collishaw

The Cardamom Club

Jon Stock

Almost Blue

Carlo Lucarelli

The Blue Edge of Midnight

Jonathon King

The Fifth Woman

Henning Mankell

Unreal City

Tony Hanania

Schopenhauer's Telescope

Gerard Donovan

A Girl Returned

Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Alice and the Fly

James Rice

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair

Joel Dicker

Silent House

Orhan Pamuk


Wayne Macauley