Join us at Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore on Tuesday, August 15th, 7pm when local Pulitzer Prize winning novelist RICHARD KLUGER will read from, discuss, and sign copies of his new book Hamlet's Children, a riveting World War II drama about how the members of a stalwart Danish family, each in a different way, resist the five-year stranglehold on their peace-loving little nation by a ruthless conqueror. Richard will be joined in conversation by Berkeley publishing icon STEVE WASSERMAN. (Richard's photo by Nicholas Lattimer. Steve's photo by Dennis Anderson)
The event is free, but attendees must register through Eventbrite or at the store. Click here to preorder a copy of the book.
In his eighth novel Kluger displays his dedication to meticulous research, keen eye for detail, and gift for creating complex, flawed, and fully human characters as he tells the story of American teenager Terry Sayre, who, due to grave family misfortune in the summer of 1939, is forced to accept asylum abroad with his mother’s Danish kin, people he scarcely knows. Despondent but not given to self-pity, Terry begins life anew, sheltered in his formidable grandparents’ home in a coastal town near Copenhagen.
Within months, though, and without provocation, Nazi Germany’s massive armed forces over-whelm Denmark and subjugate its proud people. As the sensitive prism through which the Nazi occupation is perceived, Terry’s older self recounts his precarious coming of age marooned in an alien land. Though surrounded by his admirable relatives who are unwilling to accept humiliation by their captors, he finds himself trapped in the same agonizing moral dilemma as his adopted countrymen, forced to submit—at gunpoint—to servicing their enemy’s needs or to resist and face the lethal consequences. Only when the Gestapo tries late in the war to round up the Danish Jews for extermination do their Gentile neighbors, Terry among them, rise up in collective fury and, in the novel’s pivotal event – and one of history’s most remarkable humanitarian displays – defy their tormentors’ murderous intention.
“My story takes place in Denmark, but it’s intended to serve as a parable,” Kluger states. “What happened to the Danes can happen anywhere, anytime, especially if a society lets down its guard and fails to protect its liberty in the wishful belief that the world is populated largely by benign or benevolent people like themselves. The trusting Danes lost their freedoms, if not their lives or all their comforts, to a ferocious foreign power—and today’s Americans, if they similarly drop their vigil, are at risk of losing their democracy to domestic malcontents irrationally blaming their frustrations on anybody but themselves. My book’s underlying question is how can and should decent, kindhearted people confront and deter unreasoning, nihilist ruthlessness without abandoning civility and becoming monstrous themselves.”
RICHARD KLUGER is a native of Paterson, New Jersey, grew up in Manhattan, and graduated from Princeton University. As a young journalist, he wrote and edited for The Wall Street Journal and Forbes and became the last literary editor of the New York Herald Tribune and its Sunday supplement, Book Week. He then entered the book industry, rising to executive editor of Simon & Schuster, editor-in-chief of Atheneum, and publisher of Charterhouse Books. Amid the wave of social protests sweeping the U.S. in the 1960s and early ’70s, he turned to writing both fiction and nonfiction works that have won critical acclaim. His two best known works are Simple Justice, considered the definitive account of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark decision outlawing racially segregated public schools, and Ashes to Ashes, a chastising history of the cigarette industry and its lethal toll on smokers, which won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. His seven previous novels include National Anthem, Members of the Tribe, and The Sheriff of Nottingham. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Phyllis.
STEVE WASSERMAN is publisher of Heyday, a nonprofit independent press founded in Berkeley in 1974. He is past editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review and former publisher of Hill & Wang, an imprint of Farrar, Straus & Giroux and editor at large for Yale University Press. He also worked as a literary agent representing, among others, the late Christopher Hitchens, film historian and critic David Thomson, and singer Linda Ronstadt.
THIS EVENT is free but pre-registration is required. Registration ends at 4:30 pm on August 15th.
BECAUSE SEATING is limited, please register only if you plan to attend.
DUE TO SPACE limitations, we may not be able to accommodate every person at an event, so early registration is encouraged.
WALK-INS will be accommodated only if space allows.
WE ASK that attendees arrive between 6:45 and 7:00 PM for the event.
PLEASE leave your non-support companion animals at home.
OUR shared restrooms are not accessible after 6:30 PM, please plan accordingly.