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Foreword Review for Isaac

“Isaac is profound and consequential historical fiction, a novel worthy of inclusion in the Holocaust canon.”– GARY PRESLEY (Foreword Reviews, Nov/Dec 2017)

HISTORICAL

Robert Karmon’s Isaac is a moving tale of a young Polish Jew trapped during the Holocaust, a person who joins anti-Nazi partisans out of necessity, only to be confronted again with virulent anti-Semitism.

In 1941, the Nazi blitzkrieg strikes Rovno, Poland. Isaac’s father is a prosperous factory owner, but his family is looted of their possessions, marched into Sosenki Forest, executed, and dumped into a mass grave. Only Isaac escapes.

In shock and terrified, Isaac roams the forest. He is near starvation and dying of exposure when he encounters a partisan group. In the group is Pietka, a gentile boy from a neighboring village. Pietka urges Isaac to identify himself as “Sergei,” a Russian. Many hard, brutal partisans are anti-Semitic, but Isaac keeps his secret and learns demolitions.

Isaac falls in love with Ducia, an older widowed nurse. Soviet agents bring supplies and assign missions. They too remain ignorant of Isaac’s background, but they find his skill with dynamite and his ability to blow up Nazi supply trains admirable.

Kolpak, the Russian agent, proves a memorable character, as does Pietka. Ducia is the most nuanced character—written as strong-willed but kind, loving and independent, even among the partisans, who regard women as chattel.

With danger always present, the narrative remains tense, if it also relies heavily on exposition. Other than Isaac, Ducia, and Pietka, characters are less dimensional than they are role fillers, particularly the nearly indistinguishable cast of Nazis. The setting, rendered with its bitter cold, great gray forest, scarcity of food, and constant danger, makes for a believable atmosphere.

The novel’s foundation is reality, drawing from the experiences of the real Isaac Gochman, whom the author met when Gochman was in his seventies, and so every page rings with hard truths.

Isaac is profound and consequential historical fiction, a novel worthy of inclusion in the Holocaust canon. GARY PRESLEY (November/December 2017)

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

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Barnabas Among the Animals

My play, “Barnabas Among the Animals”. It was produced by “The Extension Theatre” and nominated as BEST PLAY by “Show Business” and includes a number of reviews.

 

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Isaac by Robert Karmon is Now Available!

Pleasure Boat Studio
is honored to present a new work
of historical fiction

ISAAC
by ROBERT KARMON

Order a book for yourself, or as a gift this holiday season!

Paperback: ISBN 978-0-912887-56-2 – $17.95
Hardback: ISBN 978-0-912887-53-1 – $26.95
ePub: ISBN 978-0-912887-54-8 $4.99

Buy Now!

ISAAC is based on a true story of the real Isaac that Robert met thirty years ago, a miraculous survivor of a horrendous Nazi Massacre in Poland, a hero in a Russian Partisan Brigade where he fell in love for the first time with a Russian Nurse and, a hero among American Soldiers, who found a new home in America.

On the night of November 6th, 1941, the life of Isaac Gochman, a 16-year-old Polish Jew, changes tragically and profoundly. Over 20,000 Jews from Rovno, Poland, are marched into the Sosenki Forest by the Nazis, stripped and shot to death, then buried in an endless, unmarked ravine. All of Isaac’s family and friends die in the massacre. But Isaac miraculously survives the slaughter, and so begins his incredible and harrowing journey through the Polish forest, facing unimaginable hardships and the constant threat of death from the Nazis and their sympathizers.

To save himself, he adopts a new identity, Sergei, a Russian Christian, and joins the Russian Partisan Brigade, to become a   demolition “miracle man.” As a Partisan, he falls passionately in love for the first time in his young life with Ducia, a Russian nurse.
Near the end of the war, he turns his back on his homeland, heroically saves the lives of American soldiers, and finds a new home in America.

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Reviews from “Demons”

Here are some reviews from my play, “Demons” that began in workshop at Playwrights Horizons as “Mercy Short”. It was produced later on Long Island.

 

Review by Mark Pechenik in The Delphian
From “The Good Times”, April 24-May 7, 1979
Review by Nancy Wallis
Review of Demons by Howard Lord
From the Long Island Catholic – May 10, 1979
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Announcing “Isaac”, Available December 1st, 2017

Isaac, based on a true story, follows the epic journey of young boy from near-death to ultimate triumph as a man. It is as harrowing as “The Revenant.” In parable-like prose, it captures Isaac’s miraculous survival of the Nazi massacre of his family and his escape alone into a vast, nightmarish European Forest. After being saved by his friend, Pietka, a gentile from near his village, he joins the Russian Partisans and falls in love with Ducia, a Russian Partisan Nurse. I was immediately drawn into the plight of this brave young man as he learns how love and friendship can overcome the memories of hatred, discrimination, and terrible loss. is is a masterful coming-of-age novel amid the horrors and passions of war.”

~ DICK ALLEN, author of Present Vanishing, Ode to the Cold War, is Shadowy Place, and Connecticut State Poet Laureate (2010-2015)

Isaac narrates the story of a young Jew from Rovno whose wartime survival among partisan fighters in the forests of eastern Europe is grippingly told from first page to last. For their sheer terror, the descriptions of Isaac’s ordeals match those in Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird and some of Aharon Appelfeld’s fiction. Readers drawn to tales of human resiliency against all odds will find this a compelling novel.”

~ ALVIN H. ROSENFELD, author of A Double Dying, one of the seminal books on Holocaust Literature; Professor of English and Jewish Studies at Indiana University.

About the book: On the night of November 6th, 1941, the life of Isaac Gochman, a 16-year-old Polish Jew, changes tragically and profoundly. Over 20,000 Jews from Rovno, Poland, are marched into the Sosenki Forest by the Nazis, stripped and shot to death, then buried in an endless, unmarked ravine. All of Isaac’s family and friends die in the massacre. But Isaac miraculously survives the slaughter, and so begins his incredible and harrowing journey through the Polish forest, facing unimaginable hardships and the constant threat of death from the Nazis and their sympathizers.

To save himself, he adopts a new identity, Sergei, a Russian Christian, and joins the Russian Partisan Brigade, to become a demolition “miracle man.” As a Partisan, he falls passionately in love for the first time in his young life with Ducia, a Russian nurse.

Near the end of the war, he turns his back on his homeland, heroically saves the lives of American soldiers, and finds a new home in America.

Isaac is a true coming-of-age story of miraculous survival, courage, and love.