Nominated by:

Biblioteca Demonstrativa Maria da Conceição Moreira Salles, Brasilia, Brazil

Aleph - Stavanger Bibliotek, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

Harvill Secker, UK

Other Press, USA

Diary of the Fall

Michel Laub      

Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

2016 Award

Judges’ comments

A man faces the remorse of a cowardly act from his past and recalls, at the same time, the history of his father with Alzheimer’s and his grandfather who survived Auschwitz. Diary of the fall is a supreme exploration of memory as a punishment, as a torture, as a longing, as a cultural imposition, as an imperative, as madness. A novel that reveals the repercussions of the Holocaust in the intimate life of a Brazilian family. A beatiful miniature built by an artist of the fragment.

About the Book

‘I often dreamed about the moment of the fall, a silence that lasted a second, possibly two, a room full of sixty people and no one making a sound, as if everyone were waiting for my classmate to cry out … but he lay on the ground with his eyes closed’

A schoolboy prank goes horribly wrong, and a thirteen-year-old boy is left injured. Years later, one of the classmates relives the episode as he tries to come to terms with his demons.

Diary of the Fall is the story of three generations: a man examining the mistakes of his past, and his struggle for forgiveness; a father with Alzheimer’s, for whom recording every memory has become an obsession; and a grandfather who survived Auschwitz, filling notebook after notebook with the false memories of someone desperate to forget.

Michel Laub’s novel asks the most basic – and yet most complex – questions about history and identity, exploring what stories we choose to tell about ourselves and how we become the people we are.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Michel Laub was born in Porto Alegre and currently lives in Sao Paulo. He is a writer and journalist, and was named one of Granta’s twenty ‘Best of Young Brazilian Novelists’. Diary of the Fall is his fifth novel, and the first to be translated into English. It has received the Brasilia Award and the Bravo!/Bradesco Prize.

Librarian’s Comments

Diary of a Fall evokes key moments in the narrator’s life, connecting them to deeper questions such as rememberance, guilt, oblivion, fundamental human condition issues. Michel Laub uses words and sentences to make this book achieve a rare degree of literary excellence in a simple but effective prose. A courageous and honest novel of a great writer, Laub was named one of Granta’s twenty Best Young Brazilian Novelists in 2012.

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