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Irene Dische: The Empress of Weehawken

(Fiction, 307 pp. 2007)

Frau Professor Doktor Elisabeth Rother is self-centered, cynical, sarcastic and incorrigibly anti-Semitic. A German army nurse in WWI, she marries a Jewish surgeon after he converts to Catholicism. To Elisabeth’s dismay, their racially impure daughter, grows up, marries a Jewish professor and has two children, a boy too intelligent for his own good and a rebellious daughter. In the formidable voice of her grandmother, the author pushes the boundaries of autobiographical fiction in a novel that is and is not based on her family history.