From a gifted young writer, the story of his quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows
Menachem Kaiser’s brilliantly told story, woven from improbable events and profound revelations, is set in motion when the author takes up his Holocaust-survivor grandfather’s former battle to reclaim the family’s apartment building in Sosnowiec, Poland. Soon, he is on a circuitous path to encounters with the long-time residents of the building, and with a Polish lawyer known as “The Killer.” A surprise discovery—that his grandfather’s cousin not only survived the war, but wrote a secret memoir while a slave laborer in a vast, secret Nazi tunnel complex—leads to Kaiser being adopted as a virtual celebrity by a band of Silesian treasure seekers who revere the memoir as the indispensable guidebook to Nazi plunder. Propelled by rich original research, Kaiser immerses readers in profound questions that reach far beyond his personal quest. What does it mean to seize your own legacy? Can reclaimed property repair rifts among the living? Plunder is both a deeply immersive adventure story and an irreverent, daring interrogation of inheritance—material, spiritual, familial, and emotional.
About the Author
MENACHEM KAISER holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan and was a Fulbright Fellow to Lithuania. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, New York, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
"A saga of family history and inheritance that reads like a murder mystery, Plunder begins with Menachem Kaiser’s journey to reclaim a Polish apartment building but immediately becomes something far richer and stranger. Probing with unusual insight and humor into questions of memory, loss, and what we owe to the past, this impossible-to-put-down book — part travelogue, part memoir, part meditation on all that history hides from us — marks the debut of a major writer.”—Ruth Franklin, author of NBCC Award-winning Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
"Exceptionally well written, this candid and suspenseful work recasts the injunction that one generation of survivors demands of all descendants, never to forget. Plunder is a magnificent and stunning literary debut.”—André Aciman, author of Find Me and Call Me by Your Name
"Menachem Kaiser is a young writer and storyteller of stunning talent, originality, and wisdom, and his debut book is gloriously impossible to categorize — by turns hilarious and profound, digressive and suspenseful, intimate and sweeping, it stands as an enviable accomplishment.”—Gideon Lewis-Kraus, author of A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful
"Reparations and treasure-hunting: I can't think of two better metaphors for memoir-writing, and I can't think of a better recent memoir than Menachem Kaiser's Plunder, which has heart, humor, and intelligence to spare." —Joshua Cohen, author of Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction