By January 8, 2009 1 Comments Read More →

Feel-Good Story Feels Bad

More catching up. The feel-bad publishing story of the season (or feel-good, if you are prone to schadenfreude) concerns another case of false memoir. Berkeley Books no longer plans to publish Herman Rosenblat’s memoir, Angel at the Fence. Rosenblat now admits that he did not meet his wife, Roma (nee Radzicky) at Buchenwald, but rather on a blind date in New York (“Anger, sadness over fabricated Holocaust story,” by Hillel Italie, AP):

“I wanted to bring happiness to people,” said Rosenblat, who now lives in the Miami area. “I brought hope to a lot of people. My motivation was to make good in this world.” 

Rosenblat is in fact a survivor, prompting Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum to observe, “How sad that he felt he had to embellish a life of surviving the Holocaust and of being married for half a century.”

A movie based on the book is still underway (“False Memoir of Holocaust Is Canceled,” by Motoko Rich and Joseph Berger, New York Times). A children’s book, Angel Girl, which was published last September, is being withdrawn by Lerner Books. (In her Booklist review, Hazel Rochman wrote that that the statement “based on a true story . . . begs the question of what’s fiction.”)

Given that Oprah hosted the Rosenblats twice on her show, I wonder if her New Year’s resolutions include anything having to do with fact-checking.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is the editor of Booklist Online and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix.