OVERRIDE

The Emperor of Lies

A Novel

Steve Sem-Sandberg; Translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death

Picador

"Fiction of true moral force, brilliantly sustained and achieved...I find it difficult to think of any book that has had such an immediate and powerful impact on me...Brave and brilliant."—Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall

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. From one of Scandinavia's most critically acclaimed and bestselling authors, The Emperor of Lies chronicles the tale of Rumkowski's monarchical rule over a quarter million Jews. 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 chronicles of life in the Lódz Ghetto, Steve Sem-Sandberg captures the full panorama of human resilience and 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?

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prologue

The Chairman Alone
(1–4 September 1942)

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Ecclesiastes 9:10

That was the day, engraved forever in the memory of the ghetto, when the Chairman announced in front of everyone that he had no choice but to let the children and old people of the ghetto go. Once he had made his proclamation that afternoon, he went to his office on Bałuty Square and sat waiting for higher powers to intervene to save him. He had
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Emperor of Lies

"Mesmerizing...An irresistible work of fiction, absorbing from first page to last...Dickens would have been very pleased with this novel."—Carmen Callil, The Guardian (London)

"Was Rumkowski a sinner or a saint? Collaborator or a liberator? It is around this central question that The Emperor of Lies swirls, providing along the way. . . cinematic detail that invites immersion in the way few contemporary novels of serious ambition do."—Daphne Merkin, The New York Times Book Review

"A resolute masterpiece, The Emperor of Lies looks for truths in the great domain of dissolving syntax and shadows we call history....A great achievement."—Sebastian Barry, Salon

In the Press

THE EMPEROR OF LIES by Steve Sem-Sandberg, Sarah DeathKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of THE EMPEROR OF LIES . A Swedish bestseller, this sprawling, Dickensian novel of the Holocaust now lands in America, where it is sure to attract attention.
- Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

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The Emperor of Lies

A Novel

Steve Sem-Sandberg; Translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death

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Picador

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