Alison Pick’s novel about Czechoslovakian Jews during the Nazi occupation was informed by her family history: her father came from a family of Czech Jews but was raised a Christian.

Pick only found this out by chance as a teenager and also discovered that the reason behind the decision was so that when the family reached Canada and safety – which they finally did in 1940 – they would not be in the same peril again. This hidden complication perhaps lay behind her studying psychology and then philosophy in her native Canada before turning to prose and poetry. Pick herself later converted to Judaism: ‘I always imagined that I could reclaim my family’s Judaism when I wanted, like a lost suitcase,’ though it proved more complicated than that.

Alison Pick

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