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In the fall of 2008, upon the reprint of an English translation of Jakov Lind’s 1963 novel, Landscape in Concrete, Sasha Weiss reflected on the Viennese writer. Born in 1927, Lind survived World War II by taking on a new identity, working as a sailor in Germany after being sent on a Kindertransport to Amsterdam and shuttled between various affluent local families. In 1969, Lind wrote his first English work, Counting My Steps—one of his four autobiographies.
Composing his life as he later would one of his strange parables, Lind decided that he would not be carted off like the rest of the Jews, and at the age of sixteen fashioned himself a new identity. Appealing to the frayed remnants of the Jewish resistance still operating in Amsterdam, he obtained false identity papers and became Jan Overbeek, a working-class Dutchman in a felt hat and tall black riding boots, an inscrutable expression on his face. “I knew I had to be an ordinary Dutch boy,” he writes in Counting My Steps.
Read Third Life, by Sasha Weiss
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.