The Bookshelf: ‘Searching for Raoul Wallenberg’ (NHPR)


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This week, NHPR’s The Bookshelf features Searching for Wallenberg, a new book by Adjunct Professor of Liberal Studies Alan Lelchuk.

The novel, reports NHPR,  “seeks answers to lingering questions about the disappearance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Wallenberg is famous for having saved thousands of Jews in Budapest in the closing years of World War II. In 1945 he was arrested by the Soviets and is believed to have died in a prison, but questions about how and when he died still linger.”

Lelchuck tells NHPR that he first became interested in Wallenberg over a decade ago.

“I was teaching in Budapest in 2001 and 2002 and there was a sculpture of him, which first drew me to him, although I had known about him since childhood. And the more I found out about him, the more he was an extremely interesting character,” he says.

“And there were many mysteries about him and mysteries about his case, if you will, that suited me perfectly because I’m a novelist, not an historian, and what I began to see was that fiction could fill in the gaps and the spaces in history that the historians were unable to do, and are unable to do. So it gave me a kind of free license to explore sides of his character, which I learned about through reading about him, through going to Michigan, where he spent three years in architectural school, through his letters to his grandfather. Part of the raison d’être of the book is to give Wallenberg, who is a ghost in the book, his voice.”

Listen to the full story, broadcast 6/12/15 by NHPR.

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