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Read Excerpts

Compulsively readable, This Is How It Begins is a novel about free speech, the limits of tolerance, and the bitter consequences of long-buried secrets. 


Excerpts

"This is America. Such things do not happen here."

 

At the state house, Lolek passed the top of the Grand Staircase and walked up a set of narrow marble steps to the fourth floor, his energy increasing with each step. Tommy had not seemed scared, exactly, but bewildered; he’d always possessed an abiding faith in people’s innate goodness, a faith Lolek himself had instilled and encouraged in his children and still, for the most part, believed. Tommy, however, had finally run headlong into someone else’s differing definition of good, someone else’s unwavering faith, and it pained Lolek that Tommy would soon discover what Lolek had learned his first year in office: a person’s faith—however defined—could be as entrenched and unmovable as the granite cornerstone anchoring the state house itself; reason was powerless to budge it.

—From Chapter 5, This Is How It Begins 

COVER #2

Available October 2017


I found this photograph by Joe Julius Heydecker in the archives at The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland, after I had written about the fictional painting Prelude, 1939, which depicts a street busker playing violin. Like the fictional painting, this photograph is of a boy in the Warsaw Ghetto. Moments like this while writing the novel kept me going; I was apparently telling a story that wanted to be told.

I found this photograph by Joe Julius Heydecker in the archives at The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland, after I had written about the fictional painting Prelude, 1939, which depicts a street busker playing violin. Like the fictional painting, this photograph is of a boy in the Warsaw Ghetto. Moments like this while writing the novel kept me going; I was apparently telling a story that wanted to be told.

What Ludka admired most about the painting "Prelude, 1939" was that it captured the insularity of the people, the way they had so clearly huddled into themselves, individually or with one or two loved ones. There was no eye contact among any of them, not one glance, with one notable exception—the poor street busker searched the faces of the passersby, pleading for even the briefest of connections. He got nowhere, and to Ludka’s mind his raised bow, jaunty with hope and forever suspended above his tilted, empty case, was the epicenter of the whole tragic painting.

  —From Chapter 1, This Is How It Begins


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