The former director of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm makes his literary debut with this novel of book publishing, émigrés, spies, and diplomats in World War II Sweden based on his grandfather’s life.
The author is a descendant of the historical Dr. B., and the novel follows the facts of his life and incorporates historical characters into a very accomplished and appealing portrait of Stockholm. Told in leisurely detail and sometimes perhaps a bit too discursive, the book may be short of action for some, but those who persist will be rewarded ... A moving evocation of a life beset by conflicts in a troubled time.
... illuminating ... Birnbaum skillfully delineates the social and political tensions shaping a culture caught between the national interests of Germany and Russia, and he poignantly conveys the plight of individuals for whom each day is a potential tragedy waiting to happen. This auspicious debut makes for an appealing drama.