Title: Heidegger’s Glasses
Author: Thaisa Frank
Publication Date: November 1, 2010
Hardcover: 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
A mysterious compound deep underground.
A love affair larger than a World War.
A fairy tale with atrocities.
And it all begins with one single letter….
Heidegger’s Glasses opens during the end of World War II in a failing Germany coming apart at the seams. The Third Reich’s strong reliance on the occult and its obsession with the astral plane has led to the formation of an underground compound of scribes–translators responsible for answering letters written to those eventually killed in the concentration camps.
Into this covert compound comes a letter written by eminent philosopher Martin Heidegger to his optometrist, who is now lost in the dying thralls of Auschwitz. How will the scribes answer this letter? The presence of Heidegger’s words–one simple letter in a place filled with letters–sparks a series of events that will ultimately threaten the safety and well-being of the entire compound.
Part love story, part thriller, part meditation on how the dead are remembered and history presented, with threads of Heidegger’s philosophy woven throughout, the novel evocatively illustrates the Holocaust from an entirely original vantage point.
Heidegger’s Glasses by Thaisa Frank is a deeply philosophical, profound, and for the most part, depressing historical fiction novel about the Nazi atrocities of WWII. Frank takes a rather intriguing look at the war, while she describes in rather vivid detail many aspects of the war, she goes a step further having a specific set of concentration camp prisoners live underground in a specially developed bunker where they are to write letters to families of prisoners already deceased to make them believe the dead are still alive. This is not only pure genius but also serves to show the depths; literally, the prisoners will struggle through to live. I enjoyed the philosophical debates they reminded me a lot of Russian authors who have written about Russian prison camps. I found the strength of the prisoners to be moving and the story to be heart breaking. Frank writes an absolutely brilliant novel with an unusual twist and style making her version of Nazi concentration camps to be one that will last for quite a long time in the reader’s mind as Frank’s message is one the reader will not miss. It sounds rather odd to say I enjoyed Heidegger’s Glasses due to the oppressive and depressive tone, yet I truly did. Would I recommend this book to everyone? Absolutely not, but I highly recommend Heidegger’s Glasses to adults who enjoy philosophical historical fiction and are prepared before hand that the novel is not an easy one to get through, for it is an intense, emotional book. I strongly recommend Heidegger’s Glasses to book discussion groups as the author provides so much material to be mulled over.
Thaisa Frank has written three books of fiction, including A Brief History of Camouflage and Sleeping in Velvet (both with Black Sparrow Press, now acquired by David Godine). She has co-authored a work of nonfiction, Finding Your Writers Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction, which is used in MFA programs. Her forthcoming novel, Heidegger’s Glasses, is coming out this fall with Counterpoint Press. Foreign rights have already been sold to ten countries.
Thaisa has taught in the graduate programs at San Francisco State, the University of San Francisco, been on the staff of various summer writing workshops, and written essays, including a recent Afterward in Viking/Penguin’s new edition of Voltaire. You can find out more about Heidegger’s Glasses and Thaisa by visiting her website.
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I received a complimentary copy of Heidegger’s Glasses by Thaisa Frank from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.