“There are many Holocaust memoirs in print today, but this one stands out because of its presentation…The combination of fear, defiance, and courage rings true. This is an excellent choice for all libraries collecting Holocaust literature, and book clubs will have much to discuss as they consider the plight of this family.”
– Barbara M. Bibel, Jewish Book Council
“In the crowded genre of Second World War memoirs, former Israeli ambassador Yitzchak Mayer has managed to create the unexpected – a lyrical, eloquent account of his family’s escape from Europe.”
– Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod, Canadian Jewish News
“a tour de force”… “a heartbreaking, nail-biting story of love, grit and determination.”
– Barbara Lingens, Bookloons
” an extraordinary work”
– Peter McFarlane, mikrarevivim.blogspot.ca
Winner of the French WIZO Prize (2014)
Silent Letter is the remarkable survival story of Rosie, recounted by her eldest son Erwin (who is in fact the author, Yitzchak Mayer). The novel begins in January 1943, when the Gestapo in Marseilles arrests Rosie’s husband Moritz, a member of the French Resistance. He will never be seen again by Rosie, and will die in Auschwitz. Left with her two young children, Erwin and Jacky, and pregnant, Rosie decides to escape to Switzerland. She carries false French documents and diamonds embedded in a bar of soap. Unable to speak any French, she pretends to be mute and relies on Erwin to speak for her. Through the eyes of the remarkable narrator, Erwin is able to find Rosie’s true voice, recognize her acute perceptions and reveal her inner turmoil throughout this captivating and vivid saga. Silent Letter was originally published in Israel and Switzerland and was awarded the French WIZO Prize in 2014.
Yitzchak Mayer was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1934. At the outbreak of World War II, his family fled, were captured in France, then escaped and lived under cover until his father was caught and deported to Auschwitz, where he died. His mother eventually found refuge in Switzerland with her two sons. Mayer immigrated to Palestine in 1946. He studied literature and education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has served as director of the Yemin Orde Youth Village and later served as ambassador to Belgium and Switzerland. Today he is senior adviser to the Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College, and writes on social and political matters for the Israeli press.