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Fact or fiction?,
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This review is from: The Emperor of Lies (Paperback)
I was initially dubious about the idea of a novel about these events, but I'm also aware that there is a real difference between reading any number of factual and historical accounts of an event, and the new insights a well-imagined and well-crafted piece novel or story can give me. In the end, Sandberg does succeed in allowing us to imagine the horror of these times, in particular individuals' fears, and their isolation and powerlessness, when they don't even know what is going on around them. His characterisation of Rumkowski is well-realised (in the end small details of historical veracity are not that important in fiction) because the complexity of the moral dilemma facing an individual is clear, and not avoided.
It's a shocking and harrowing read in places. It reminds me, in a strange way, of the power of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones. Maybe such fictional explorations are now coming into their own as we get further away in time from the events, and those who were able to bear actual witness are no longer with us.