Saturday, June 29, 2019

Richard Zimler's "The Warsaw Anagrams"

Richard Zimler's novels include The Search for Sana, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, and The Seventh Gate. He has won many prizes for his writing and has lectured on Sephardic Jewish culture all over the world. He now lives in Porto, Portugal, where he teaches journalism and writes.

Here Zimler dreamcasts an adaptation of his novel, The Warsaw Anagrams:
The Warsaw Anagrams is a noir mystery set inside Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. The narrator, Erik Cohen, is an elderly psychiatrist, except that the reader discovers right away that he is already dead. Erik is an ibbur – a ghost – who has failed to pass over to the Other Side. Why? He theorizes that it is because he still has a duty to fulfill in our world. Except that he doesn’t know what it is. He tells the story of his last year in the Warsaw ghetto in the hopes of discovering what it is.

A little context… In the autumn of 1940, the Nazis sealed 400,000 Jews inside a small area of the Polish capital, creating an urban island cut off from the outside world. Erik is forced to move into a tiny apartment there with his niece and his beloved nine-year-old nephew, Adam.

One bitterly cold winter day, Adam goes missing. The next morning, his body is discovered in the barbed wire surrounding this Jewish ghetto. For what possible reason has his body been murdered?

Erik fights off his crushing rage and despair by vowing to find his nephew’s killer – and take revenge. His childhood friend Izzy – whose quick courage and wicked sense of humor keeps Erik from losing his nerve – joins him in the desperate and dangerous search.

A Portuguese producer is currently trying to secure funding for the film, but I don’t know where the projects stands (the author is always the last to know!). The role of Erik would have to be played by a very charismatic and talented actor. Erik isn’t a demonstrative man, so the actor would have to be able to capture the viewer’s attention through small and telling gestures – and through modulations in his voice. One actor that the producer and I have discussed is Jeremy Irons. Another possibility would be Mandy Patinkin. I think both of them could do a great job (and get an Oscar nomination!). For Izzy, the other main role, I would like Mark Rylance. I saw him in Bridge of Spies and was very impressed. I think that he and Jeremy Irons or Mandy Patinkin would make an incredible duo.
Visit Richard Zimler's website.

--Marshal Zeringue