In 1988 the writer Patrick Modiano chanced across an old copy of
Paris Soir dated 31st December 1941. In it the following notice
caught his eye. 'Missing, a young girl, Dora Bruder, 15, height
1.55m, oval-shaped face, grey-brown eyes, grey sports jacket,
maroon pullover, navy blue skirt and hat, brown gym shoes. All
information to M and Mme Bruder, 41 Boulevard Ornano, Paris.' The
cutting intrigues him, partly because he is familiar with that area
of Paris and its people and partly because he suspects, rightly as
it turns out, that Dora Bruder was Jewish. For a young girl to run
away from home was not all out of the ordinary, for a young Jewish
girl to run away at a time when the German authorities had a curfew
in place and when the round-up of French Jews had begun in earnest
was quite another. The author determines to find out more about
Dora, her family and her fate. So begins an eight-year search
through the fragmented archives of shame. An investigation that
leads him, inevitably, to an examination of his own past and family
relationships. Simply written in terms of language, but
extraordinarily complex in terms of feeling, understanding and
implication, this is a haunting book. In combining fact,
remembrance, experience and emotion Modiano has welded together a
moving observation of the time, and of its subsequent impact on the
generation that followed. Review by FRANK GOODMAN (Kirkus UK)
While looking through wartime editions of Paris Soir, Patrick Modiano chanced upon a notice in an issue of December 1941. A fifteen year old girl, Dora Bruder, had vanished and her parents were seeking information about her disappearance. She had apparently run away on a bitterly cold night at a time of especially violent German reprisals. Moved by her fate, Modiano set out to find out all he could about her. Eventually he discovered her name in a list of Jews deported to Auschwitz and the other fragments he unearthed about the Bruder family became part of a meditation on the immense losses of the period – people lost, stories lost, human history lost. In The Search Warrant Modiano has written a moving account of his decade-long investigation into the lost life of Dora Bruder, an investigation which leads him to confront, and come to terms with, his own family history.
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