Agata Tuszynska’s Vera Gran – The Accused is an explosive and controversial portrait of the lives trapped inside the nightmare of the Warsaw Ghetto, exploring the price paid to survive. A favorite in the nightclubs of pre-war Warsaw, singer Vera Gran has since been all but forgotten. During the Second World War, Gran, her accompanist Szpilman, and countless other Jewish artists and performers confined to the Warsaw Ghetto performed together at Sztulka café. Vera escaped the ghetto, the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, but was later accused by her fellow Warsaw artists of collaborating with the Nazis. While exonerated for lack of incriminating evidence, Gran would be hounded wherever she went—from Poland to Israel to France—followed by hazy rumors—traitor, Nazi collaborator, “Gestapo Whore”— and eventually confined by bitterness to a lonely basement apartment in Paris.
In Vera Gran – The Accused, acclaimed journalist and biographer Agata Tuszynska uses Vera’s own recollections as well as letters, statements, and interviews of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto to tell Vera’s story and to “explore the fraught politics of collaboration and guilt” (Publishers Weekly).
“Darkly absorbing . . . shrewd . . . a probing, atmospheric study of the ghetto’s moral ambiguities . . . sharply etched . . . In Charles Ruas’s skillful translation, Tuszynska’s prose conveys Gran’s story in brisk, evocative montage while, appropriately, leaving open enigmatic gaps. She finds no bright line of truth—just subtle shades of gray that are revealing of a nightmarish time.” — Publishers Weekly
“Renders the World War II years in great detail, but the meat of the book lies in the accusation that Gran collaborated with the occupied forces in Warsaw and her vigorous, lifelong self-defense. . . . A great choice for Gran devotees or World War II enthusiasts.” — Kirkus
“Agata Tuszynska has produced a book of extraordinary depth and power that sets one tormented individual on a lifelong struggle across the moral cloudland.” – The Boston Globe
“Tuszynska shines a miner’s light on the poisonous historical landscape after the Occupation, when everyone had a score to settle and no one could look anyone else in the eye. . . I read Vera Gran with growing excitement at the voice, the author’s ability to parse moral complexities. . . Her reactions to uncovered historical truths — often despairing — are deeply moving.” – Louise Steinman, Los Angeles Review of Books
– Whitley Abell