New Fiction: A Replacement Life – Boris Fishman

Is there ever such a thing as a “just fraud”? That’s the question at the heart of this story about a young writer pressed into service writing restitution claim letters for Russian Jewish immigrants Brooklyn. If this sounds like Gary Shteyngart, it’s the right territory. The editor refines that comparison by noting that while this story is “wickedy funny” it is “simmered in an Old World stew of bickering, guile and tenderness.”

The advance reviewers love Fishman and this story. Expect good review coverage at on sale.

The debut novel from Fishman shines with a love for language and craft. Minsk-born 25-year-old Slava Gelman has made it to the bottom of top-tier journalism. He’s junior staff at Century magazine, and he’s just been given a shot at a byline. But the death of his Holocaust-survivor grandmother throws self-involved Slava’s life out of focus. His grandfather—a quick-to-brag but resourceful man who “gets things”—pressures Slava into forging a restitution claim letter for Slava’s deceased grandmother, then spreads the news around his South Brooklyn neighborhood of Slava’s availability to write such fraudulent letters. Soon, Slava finds himself sharing secrets with strangers…[and] he learns their real value in the course of this forging scheme. Writers like Slava, and like Fishman, have a responsibility to do justice to the beauty in the details, and Fishman achieves that handily here.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Fishman has talent galore, and an attractive love interest, funny set-pieces, a brochure-beautiful Big Apple, and spectacular, acutely self-conscious prose are all most enjoyable.”
— Booklist

“Fishman, an émigré from Belarus, captures the complexities of family, nationality, and history as he cleverly ties the loose ends of truth, justice, morality, and family into a tidy bow in his first novel.”
— Library Journal

“Fishman invests Slava’s moral quandary with realism and pathos, while resolving it in a way that’s simultaneously unpredictable and satisfying…Like his protagonist, Fishman manages to keep all these plates spinning, finally bringing them to a clean stop with impressive style.”
— Shelf Awareness

A Replacement Life (9780062287878) by Boris Fishman. $25.99 hardcover. 6/3/14 on sale.

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