Shalom Auslander, a Tablet Magazine columnist, has written his first novel, Hope: A Tragedy. It tells the story of Kugel, who, not unlike Auslander himself, lives in rural New York with his wife and son (well, now Auslander has two). Unlike Auslander, however, Kugel also shares his home with an old lady who has taken up residence in the attic, purports to be Anne Frank, and refuses to vacate until she’s completed her second book. The conceit allows Auslander to explore themes that he’s long mulled over: namely, how do we properly reckon with the past, with evil, with guilt, and with unfounded optimism?
In next week’s episode of Vox Tablet, Auslander speaks with host Sara Ivry about the new novel, and about how terrible we are at dealing with troublesome history. Here’s a preview: an anecdote he shared about a walking tour he took in Bremen, Germany, a few years ago. His guide proudly points out Stars of David that have recently been affixed above the door frames of homes once owned by Jews. Auslander does not share her enthusiasm.
You can hear the rest of the interview on Monday.