MORE THAN I LOVE MY LIFE
Fiction, Knopf, 2021
More Than I Love My Life is the story of three strong women: Vera, age ninety; her daughter, Nina; and her granddaughter, Gili, who at thirty-nine is a filmmaker and a wary consumer of affection. A bitter secret divides each mother and daughter pair, though Gili—abandoned by Nina when she was just three—has always been close to her grandmother.
With Gili making the arrangements, they travel together to Goli Otok, a barren island off the coast of Croatia, where Vera was imprisoned and tortured for three years as a young wife after she refused to betray her husband and denounce him as an enemy of the people. This unlikely journey—filtered through the lens of Gili’s camera, as she seeks to make a film that might help explain her life—lays bare the intertwining of fear, love, and mercy, and the complex overlapping demands of romantic and parental passion.
More Than I Love My Life was inspired by the true story of one of David Grossman’s longtime confidantes, a woman who, in the early 1950s, was held on the notorious Goli Otok (“the Adriatic Alcatraz”). With flashbacks to the stalwart Vera protecting what was most precious on the wretched rock where she was held, and Grossman’s fearless examination of the human heart, this swift novel is a thrilling addition to the oeuvre of one of our greatest living novelists, whose revered moral voice continues to resonate around the world.
Brazil: Companhia das Letras; Bulgaria: Colibri; Croatia: Fraktura; Czech: Euromedia; Denmark: Forlaget Vandkunsten; Finland: Otava; France: Seuil; Germany: Hanser; Greece: Psichogios; Holland: Cossee; Hungary: Scolar; Israel: Hakibbutz Hameuchad; Italy: Mondadori; Norway: Agora; Poland: Znak; Portugal: Dom Quixote/Leya; Romania: Editura Polirom; Russia: Eksmo; Serbia: Arhipelag; Slovenia: Beletrina; Slovakia: Artforum; Spain (Spanish): Lumen/Random House; Spain (Catalan): Edicions 62; Sweden: Bonniers; Turkey: Siren; UK: Jonathan Cape; USA: Knopf
Dramatic Rights: Germany: Staatstheater Braunschweig
“Concisely devastating . . . A powerful retelling of a Jewish woman’s extraordinary life . . . A story so emotionally, ideologically and morally complex that it takes all of Grossman’s considerable skills to render . . . He has demonstrated again that the novel—elastic, expansive, amenable to painful fragmentation—can provide a space for the most harrowing and resistant material.” —Alex Clark, The Guardian
“Another extraordinary novel from Grossman, a book as beautiful and sad as anything you’ll read this year . . . A book of secrets wrapped within secrets . . . It is a love story, a story about a family and their myriad individual tragedies. But it is also about the way that the personal can never be wholly separated from the political, about the lingering wounds of history, about how violence seeps into all the dark corners of a life. It is, in the end, about Israel. . . . Immaculately translated by Jessica Cohen.” —Alex Preston, The Observer
“Tender and disquieting . . . Grossman shines a light on the victims of the violent split between Tito and Stalin, as well as on the stories people tell themselves to explain, survive, and forgive. And in Vera, who is nimble and sharp at 90, endlessly self-mythologizing, and possessed of a broken Hebrew that Cohen renders into idiosyncratic broken English, the author has created an unforgettable character. This adds another remarkable achievement to Grossman’s long list.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Powerful . . . Grossman performs a deft exploration of how trauma impacts succeeding generations.” —Kristine Huntley, Booklist
“To turn a ‘true story’ into a true story—universal and precise, haunted by destiny and graced with a complete humanity—requires the wisdom of a narrator like Grossman.” —Alessandro Zaccuri, Avvenire (Italy)
“A superb depiction of three generations of women in which the author fleshes out an absence.” —Florence Noiville, Le Monde (France)
“Captivating . . . David Grossman is a master of the literature of redemption.” —Volker Weidermann, Der Spiegel (Germany)
“To Grossman, it is something beyond politics and psychology that is important, something that is difficult to put into words, but which he nevertheless embodies: that life is, after all, better than death.” —Ingrid Elam, DN (Sweden)