By Björn Larsson

Martin Brenner is dealing with the loss of his mother Maria. He is comforted by his wife Cristina and their young daughter Sara, but to Martin’s surprise he is not all too devastated by the passing of his mother.

Even though he grew up with only his mother raising him and Martin never has met his father, he always felt a distance between Maria and himself.

After Maria’s funeral Martin is contacted by a lawyer. Martin, who was unaware his mother had a lawyer, is startled by the news he now receives. It appears Maria wasn’t the German refugee he always thought, instead she was Jewish and aa Auschwitz survivor, who’s real name was Gertrud.

In the safe hands of her lawyer, Gertrud has left a letter for Martin in which she explains why she never dared to tell him the truth. His mother wanted to ensure Martin had the freedom to chose his own faith. Now that he knows the truth if his heritage, he can either affirm his Jewish roots or not. If he doesn’t tell anyone he will remain who he is. But then he will repeat what his mother did. Does he have the courage explore who he really is? Does he even want to?

Letters from Gertrud is a story about identity and history, about freedom and the privilege to chose your own faith as well as the cost those choices may have.

First published by Norstedts, September 2018. 435 pages

Denmark, Forlaget Amanda Books
France, Grasset & Fasquelle
Italy, Iperborea
Sweden, Norstedts

Björn Larsson writes about origin and secrets in a quiet novel that should be a mandatory read for everyone.

This is a powerful and important depiction of the struggles that people are facing today. The core tendency in the novel consists of a question, just as skillfully illustrated as it is serious, about how free we really are to choose for ourselves.

Winner of the XXVIII edition of the Giuseppe Acerbi Literary Prize.