The Prodigal Child
Translated from the French by Sandra Smith
“A fairy tale-esque novella….tender and poignant.”
—San Franciso Book Review
“A rare, poetic insight into human nature…an astonishing accomplishment given Némirovsky was just 21 when she wrote it.”
“Paints with great detail and sensitivity the dream of assimilation.…with rich sensual language.”
—Jewish Book Council
Set in Russia at the turn of the century, in a large port town on the Black Sea, The Prodigal Child opens as Ishmael, a boy with a gift for composing poetry and songs, attracts the attention of a wealthy and sophisticated lady, who rescues him from his hard life in a Jewish ghetto.
But her affection turns into a golden cage for the boy as he falls hopelessly in love with her, only to realize that she has no interest in him other than for the entertainment he provides with his art. Spiraling deeper and yet with no rescue this time, Ishmael grows ill. In a well of despair he loses his passion, the very gift the “Princess” was drawn to in the first place. No longer a prodigy, and of no use to her, he is returned to the life he had tried to escape.
Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1903 into a wealthy Jewish family and was raised in a life of privilege in Europe. After fleeing Russia during the Revolution, she immersed herself in the company of thinkers, artists, musicians, and other cultural elites as part of the Parisian literati of her time. Sixty-two years after her death, in 2004, the never-before-published Suite Française brought international acclaim to this gifted writer, whose life was tragically lost in the Holocaust.
Sandra Smith has translated thirteen of Irène Némirovsky’s novels, including Suite Française, into English. The winner of multiple awards, she has also translated works by Albert Camus, Guy de Maupassant, and Simone de Beauvoir, among many others.
Hardcover | jacketed
5 x 7 inches | 80 pages
$17.95 | Fiction