The Deborah Harris Agency
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The Deborah Harris Agency



By: ZELLER, Shay

Fiction, 2014

Naama is obsessed. For her the Holocaust is not just a historical trauma but a real and present danger. She imagines herself hunted by the Nazis, prepares food and refuge for the inevitable future and sleeps with her face pressed against the pillow to make her nose appear less Jewish. A documentary filmmaker, she stumbles upon the story of a unique casting agency that recruits the thin, frail and emaciated to serve as extras in Holocaust-themed movies. She begins filming Amir, one of the extras, and joins him on a film set in Munich. There the novel’s other protagonist, a young German man named Thomas Kunert,  is also obsessed—with his seemingly perfect family and the undeniable fact that he has never fit in it. Tormented by his idealized image of his father, Thomas begins following him around as part of a university photography project.  When his father meets with a film producer and seems to be somehow involved in the life an older actor, Thomas finds a job as a still photographer on the producer’s movie set and tries to do some sleuthing. In Munich, WWII is reenacted on set and the lives of Naama and Thomas collide as the mystery around the older actor begins to unfold. Provocative, insightful, and surprisingly entertaining, The Agency for Holocaust Extras is an extraordinary debut novel about family, identity, secrets and the deceptive narratives people adopt to survive.

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Published by:

Israel, Miskal


“This is a book about intellectual journeys toward discovery and insight as well as toward the deepest hidden places both internal and external…Zeller has crafted Thomas as a sensitive character with the finest of sensibilities and an exceptional sensitivity born out of personal pain…Zeller knows how to construct internal and external plots and fascinate the reader… [T]he language of the book is wonderful...The perfect balance of literary and contemporary, with lots of brilliant turns of phrase and clever protagonists. In short, a profound novel whose value lies not in its philosophical pretentiousness but in its journey into the soul, in its fascinating plots, in its crafting of characters and its stylistic achievement.” – Rivka Shaul Ben Zvi, Makor Rishon

“Brilliantly written…funny, ironic, smart and provocative, readable, fascinating and above all – original… A refreshingly new journey down a well-trod path that we thought our legs were already walking down automatically. Zeller manages, nonetheless, to say something new.” – Zohara Ron, Globes 

“Zeller asks his readers to confront the weak, persecuted Jew buried deep in their psyche.” – Eldad Beck, Yediot Acharonot