Remote Sympathy


By Catherine Chidgey

cover image of Remote Sympathy

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This polyphonic novel of an S.S. officer, his ailing wife, and a concentration camp survivor "marks a vital turn in Holocaust literature" (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Being appointed administrator of the Buchenwald work camp is a major advancement for SS Sturmbannführer Dietrich Hahn. But as the prison population begins to rise, his job becomes ever more consuming. His wife, Frau Greta Hahn, finds their new home even lovelier than their apartment in Munich. She enjoys life among the other officer's wives, and the ease with which she can purchase nearly anything her heart desires.
When Frau Hahn is forced into an unlikely alliance with one of Buchenwald's prisoners, Dr. Lenard Weber, her naïve ignorance about what is going on so nearby is challenged. A decade earlier, Dr. Weber had invented a machine: the Sympathetic Vitaliser. At the time he believed that its subtle resonances might cure cancer. But does it really work? One way or another, it might yet save a life.
A tour de force about the evils of obliviousness, Remote Sympathy compels us to question our continuing and willful ability to look the other way in a world that is once more in thrall to the idea that everything—even facts, truth and morals—is relative.
Shortlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
Remote Sympathy