Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Diary of the Fall

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Diary of the Fall

Diary of the Fall

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Written by Michel LaubAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Michel Laub
Translated by Margaret Jull CostaAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Margaret Jull Costa


List Price: $15.95


On Sale: August 26, 2014
Pages: | ISBN: 978-1-59051-652-2
Published by : Other Press Other Press
Diary of the Fall Cover

Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Diary of the Fall
  • Email this page - Diary of the Fall
  • Print this page - Diary of the Fall
This book has no tags.
You can add some at Library Thing.


A cruel schoolboy prank leaves the only Catholic boy in an elite Jewish school in Porto Alegre terribly injured. Years later, one of his classmates revisits that episode, trying to come to terms with the choices he made then and his present demons.

DIARY OF THE FALL is the story of three generations: a man's 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.

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


1. My grandfather didn’t like to talk about the past, which is not so very surprising given its nature: the fact that he was a Jew, had arrived in Brazil on one of those jam-packed ships, as one of the cattle for whom history appears to have ended when they were twenty, or thirty, or forty or whatever, and for whom all that’s left is a kind of memory that comes and goes and that can turn out to be an even worse prison than the one they were in.

2. In my grandfather’s notebooks, there is no mention of that journey at all. I don’t know where he boarded the ship, if he managed to get some sort of documentation before he left, if he had any money or at least an inkling of what awaited him in Brazil. I don’t know how long the crossing lasted, whether it was windy or calm, whether they were struck by a storm one night in the early hours, whether he even cared if the ship went down and he died in what would seem a highly ironic manner, in a dark whirlpool of ice and with no hope of being remembered by anyone except as a statistic—a fact that would sum up his entire biography, swallowing up any reference to the place where he had spent his childhood and the school where he studied and everything else that had happened in his life in the interval between being born and the day he had a number tattooed on his arm.


“Finally, a novel about the relationship between Judaism’s past and present that explores new territory instead of adding yet another set of tired footprints to overworked ground. Diary of the Fall is a refreshingly honest and startlingly original book.” —Myla Goldberg, bestselling author of Bee Season and The False Friend

"Margaret Jull Costa's achievement is nothing less than heroic." —The Wall Street Journal

"Finely wrought." —The Boston Globe

“As much a novella as a novel, and as much a meditation as a novella, Laub’s first book published in English probes the emotional and psychological legacy a Jewish son inherits from his father and grandfather." —Publishers Weekly

“A spare and meditative story that captures the long aftereffects of tragedy.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Brutal yet delicate…attempts to understand man’s basic identity, ‘part of a past that is likewise of no importance compared to what I am and will be.’” —Justin Alvarez, Paris Review blog

"[A] deeply satisfying novel...Michael Laub’s expansive story will haunt you long after you encounter the resolution." —CounterPunch

“[A] crisply taut novella.” —The Brooklyn Rail

“Michel Laub has constructed a painful, relentless and ultimately beautiful portrait of three generations, whose stories, told in parallel, culminate in the most innocent and surprising expression of love. A rewarding and excellent read.” —Martin Fletcher, author of Walking Israel, winner of the National Jewish Book Award

“Beautiful, profound, and masterfully structured….overflows with a lucid, sober, oddly uplifting wisdom. I was humbled by this book, amazed by Michel Laub’s ability to shuttle between three generations, to again and again confront the madness of his family’s unimaginable past in such a way as to recognize and respond to it in his own unruly present.” —Todd Hasak-Lowy, author of The Task of This Translator

"Michel Laub's Diary of the Fall (translated by Margaret Jull Costa) is a powerful exploration of memory and guilt, drawing connections between a disastrous high-school prank and the Holocaust." —The Guardian (UK)

“I have already found a contender for my book of 2014.” —Herald (UK)

“A gripping, thoughtful novel, fluidly translated…By focusing on an act of childhood brutality and its mundane consequences, Laub beautifully retrieves the tragedy of the holocaust from its scholarship, politics and deniers, cutting to the bone of human life, its longings and limitations.”—The Independent (UK)

"Laub makes an eloquent statement about the human condition, and how we can learn to live despite it." —Bookslut

"Laub’s is a fine, complex piece of writing that examines questions of guilt and responsibility for crimes large and small, and how, if possible, to atone for them." —New Statesman (UK)

“The remarkable quality of the book resides in its construction….Diary of the Fall’s long ribbons of prose create a work of immense incantatory power.” —Neel Mukherjee, Literary Review (UK)

“This riveting read challenges how we choose to tell others our life story and how events make us into the people we are.” —The Sun (UK)

“May well emerge as one of the finest novels published in English this year.” —Irish Times

“Powerful .” —Irish Examiner

“An absolutely impeccable writer.” —NoMínimo

“The best Brazilian writer of the new generation.” —Terra Magazine

“As with Milton Hatoum, in Michel Laub there is always...a subtle touch at the most dramatic moments.” —Estado de S. Paulo

“A courageous and staggering novel.” —NRC Handelsblad

“Even while reading it for the second time, the story held me captive.” —De Groene Amsterdammer

“[A] beautiful novel.” —Het Parool

Diary of the Fall is utterly convincing. It’s an original and thought-provoking exploration of the way history casts its ripples through generations.” —Bookmunch

“Laub’s prose is compelling, his ideas intelligent, and I devoured the book in a day. Let’s hope we see more of this fantastic Brazilian writer’s work in translation.” – Kate J. Wilson, One Day Perhaps You’ll Know Blog

“Beauty resides, almost discreetly, in the poetic plot [and] inviting, flowing prose ... Therein lies Laub’s art, a style that seems to touch things without leaving a mark, without oppressing or disfiguring what is written.” —Vox

"A powerful novel." —The Northern Echo

"A brutally honest reflection on the power that memory holds over us all." —The Literary Review

Teachers Guide

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: