A spy navigates the labyrinthine horrors of Nazi Germany, on a mission to save the woman he loves
“Charyn’s blunt, brilliantly crafted prose bubbles with the pleasure of nailing life to the page in just the right words. . . . [Cesare is] provocative, stimulating and deeply satisfying.” —Washington Post
On a windy night in 1937, a seventeen-year-old German naval sub-cadet is wandering along the seawall when he stumbles upon a gang of ruffians beating up a tramp, whose life he saves. The man is none other than spymaster Wilhelm Canaris, chief of the Abwehr, German military intelligence. Canaris adopts the young man and dubs him “Cesare” after the character in the silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for his ability to break through any barrier as he eliminates the Abwehr’s enemies.
Canaris is a man of contradictions who, while serving the regime, seeks to undermine the Nazis and helps Cesare hide Berlin’s Jews from the Gestapo. But the Nazis will lure many to Theresienstadt, a phony paradise in Czechoslovakia with sham restaurants, novelty shops, and bakeries, a cruel ghetto and way station to Auschwitz. When the woman Cesare loves, a member of the Jewish underground, is captured and sent there, Cesare must find a way to rescue her.
Cesare is a literary thriller and a love story born of the horrors of a country whose culture has died, whose history has been warped, and whose soul has disappeared.
Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction. Among other honors, he has received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and his novels have been selected as finalists for the Firecracker Award and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Charyn lives in New York.
Jerome Charyn is the author of more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction, including Ravage & Son; Sergeant Salinger; Cesare: A Novel of War-Torn Berlin; In the Shadow of King Saul: Essays on Silence and Song; Jerzy: A Novel; and A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century. Among other honors, his work has been longlisted for the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award and PEN Award for Biography, shortlisted for the Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award, and selected as a finalist for the Firecracker Award and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Charyn has also been named a Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York.
Praise for Cesare
Wingate Prize Long List
“Charyn’s blunt, brilliantly crafted prose bubbles with the pleasure of nailing life to the page in just the right words. Cesare is by no means lightweight fare, but it’s provocative, stimulating and deeply satisfying.” —Washington Post
“It’s a dark art to make a subject this grotesque quite this much fun.” —Wall Street Journal
“Darkly resonant. . . . [A] convention-upturning tour de force.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“Spectacular. . . . This extraordinary tour de force showcases [Charyn] at the top of his game.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[Charyn’s] taut story line is full of surreal visuals and elaborate illusions.” —Booklist
“A complex and detailed story of the inner workings of the German Third Reich during World War II. . . . Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“Charyn has created a terrific cast of original characters who speak in a language that reflects the selfish and predatory nature of that time. . . . He tells a fascinating story of resistance against evil with a great deal of energy.” —Historical Novels Review
“Deftly written and original. . . . Unreservedly recommended.” —Midwest Book Review
“Charyn conjures up a narrative punctuated with powerful imagery. . . . In a novel full of its share of the grotesque, it takes an artist with a precise touch such as Charyn to achieve such artful results.” —Comics Grinder
Select Praise for Jerome Charyn
“Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer—so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible.” —Tom Bissell
“Charyn is one of the most important writers in American literature.” —Michael Chabon
“Charyn is a one off: no other living American writer crafts novels with his vibrancy of historical imagination.” —William Giraldi
“[Charyn’s] sentences are pure vernacular music, his voice unmistakable.” —Jonathan Lethem
“One of our most rewarding novelists.” —Larry McMurtry
“Among Charyn’s writerly gifts is a dazzling energy―a highly inflected rapid-fire prose that pulls us along like a pony cart over rough terrain.” —Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books
“Charyn skillfully breathes life into historical icons.” —New Yorker
“One of our most intriguing fiction writers.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Absolutely unique among American writers.” —Los Angeles Times
“A contemporary American Balzac.” —Newsday
“Charyn has a gift for the unexpected, both linguistically and narratively. . . . The result is at once surprising and very entertaining.” —BookPage
“For half a century, [Charyn] has been an unpredictable, unclassifiable, and above all exactingly smart author.” —Open Letters Review
“Charyn makes artful use of historical fact and fiction’s panache.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Wherever he takes us, Charyn’s mind is always agile, and his prose is stunningly electric.” —Jewish Book Council