"By giving voice to his characters, Lewis navigates their tales with compassion and fully explores the complications of living in a city haunted by its violent past." (20120430)
'Among Berlin Cantata’s most interesting aspects is its inclusion of an oft-neglected population: Jews who continued to live in Europe—and Germany—after the Holocaust... Lewis also impresses with his ability to create distinct voices for each of first-person “soloists”...' (Erika Dreifus 20120827)
"A city that has lost one of its limbs and is receiving a miraculous gift, a little bump under the flesh, where the limb is just beginning to grow back." Thus does the American girl in Jeffrey Lewis' remarkable polyphonic novel describe Berlin and the "remnant Jews, secret GDR Jews . . . Soviet Jews . . . Jews who'd fled and come back with the victors, Jews who were lost mandarins now, Jews who'd believed in the universality of man and maybe still did" she finds at a gathering in the eastern city soon after the Wall fell.
At the center of Berlin Cantata is a house owned successively by Jews, Nazis, and Communists. In the house, the American girl seeks her hidden past. In the girl, a local reporter seeks redemption. In the reporter, a false hero of the past seeks exposure. In the false hero, the American girl seeks a guide. And so it goes, a round of conspiracy and desire. Berlin Cantata deploys thirteen voices to tell a story of atonement, discovery, loss, identity, intrigue, mystery, insanity, sadomasochism, and lies.
Jeffrey Lewis is the author of Meritocracy: A Love Story (2005), Theme Song for an Old Show (2007), The Conference of the Birds (2007), and Adam the King (2008). He has won a string of awards, including the Independent Publishers Gold Medal for Literary Fiction for his novels, and two Emmy Awards and the Writer's Guild Award for his work as a writer and producer on Hill Street Blues.