Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway ~ Leon Gildin ~ The Polski Affair

The sequel

There are few events in history that have been so thoroughly written about and dissected as the Holocaust. So when one comes across a little piece of this historic tragedy, attention must paid and credit must be given.

"The Polski Affair" is the winner of the 2010 International Book Awards for historic fiction. It is a story about just such a little-known piece of the Holocaust and is based upon a research work written some thirty years ago by Abraham Shulman. Published by the Holocaust Press and distributed by Schocken Books, Shulman's work tells a story about a small group of people who survived an incomprehensible (and to this day, not understood) scheme put in place by the Nazis in an attempt to repatriate Germans held in foreign countries.

The historic portion of "The Polski Affair" tells the story of not only what the Nazis planned in order to accomplish their goal, it speaks of existing sites such as the Hotel Polski; Pawiak, a prison built by the czar of Russia in the 19th Century which was located in the center of the Warsaw ghetto; the Jewish cemetery on the outskirts of the ghetto; the city of Vittel in France where foreigners were confined, etc. The characters, their relationship to each other and their experiences in the Hotel Polski and elsewhere are fiction.

Well received and well reviewed, the book gave me the opportunity to speak before book clubs and at book signings. Some of the people before whom I spoke had already read the book and some had not. From those who had read the book I received a surprising reaction. They told me that they could not put it down and then asked me a question which I, at first, took as a joke. "What became of the people, of their families, of their problems, of their guilt at having survived?" I say I took it as a joke only because I had made up the story of these people and never considered what would happen to them after the book had ended.

After the question was asked more than once I decided that they were entitled to an answer. I wrote the sequel which carried on the story of the principal characters and introduced new characters and situations. The hint I will give you is the working title, "The Family Affair."

I had no contractual obligation to go back to my original publisher with the sequel. Here is where it stands: I have the sequel with a major publisher in New York who has been very complimentary of "The Polski Affair" and who has expressed interest in representing the sequel. I took this as promising, considering I am acting as my own agent. Publishers who will read material not submitted by an agent tell you that they are so overwhelmed by submissions that if you send them one chapter you have to wait anywhere from three to six months for a reply. So I continue to wait on this, as I continue to query other publishers.

It's a tough businesses. I understand it doesn't matter that this is a sequel to an award-winning novel. At the end of the day, all you can ask for is that the agents to whom you have sent letters of inquiry have the business courtesy to respond. Those people who are close to me and have read the sequel love it. It carries you away from the Holocaust and into the world of family life, love, unexpected happiness and unexpected tragedy. It is my hope to get it into the hands of a literary agent or a publisher who wants to read a good story. The rest will tell itself.

It is my hope that upon reading "The Polski Affair," you too will be interested in what becomes of the characters. How strong do you think are the ties that bind them?

 About the author ~ 

Leon H. Gildin is an award-winning author, producer and retired entertainment attorney. While practicing law in New York for more than 40 years, Mr. Gildin served as general counsel to actors, writers and composers, produced on and off-Broadway, and collaborated with authors and musicians in the development of scripts and musical material for the stage.

He also served as both an attorney and principal in the development of optioning of properties for major motion pictures, having worked with 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and individual producers.

During his years of practice, Mr. Gildin was counsel to various New York community organizations, including the Bronx Overall Economic Development Committee, a branch of the Bronx Borough President’s Office. He also served on a number of boards, including Chairman of the Board of the New Federal Theatre, a minority theater company, and of the Great Neck Symphony Society.

His award-winning production credits include Appear and Show Cause, a story inspired by the desegregation of the U.S. Army at which time Mr. Gildin was serving oversees. Appear and Show Cause opened the season at the Cleveland Playhouse in 1982, and he then co-produced the same off-Broadway, winning the Audelco Award. In addition, he is the executive producer of a number of TV documentaries. This includes The Secret Army, a documentary about the religious conflict in Ireland, purchased by Viacom for international distribution. Also to his credit is Theresienstadt, Gateway to Auschwitz: Recollections from Childhood, which received a Blue Ribbon Award from the American Film and Video Festival.

In 2000, Mr. Gildin authored a non-fiction work entitled “You Can’t Do Business (or Most Anything Else) Without Yiddish,” published in both hard and soft cover by Hippocrene Books, New York. The book discusses the amount of Yiddish spoken in contemporary English by both Jews and non-Jews alike resulting from Eastern European immigration at the start of the 20th Century.

Mr. Gildin is the 2010 International Book Awards winner in the Historical Fiction category for his book, “The Polski Affair,” published by Diamond River Books, Canada. According to Professor Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, the Head of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University, “‘The Polski Affair’ is a gripping tale that illustrates the moral ambiguity of the Holocaust and the struggle of ordinary people to retain their humanity under extraordinary circumstances.”

“The Polski Affair” is scheduled for release in Hebrew translation by a major Israeli publisher in February 2011.

Mr. Gildin is not quite retired, having completed a sequel to “The Polski Affair.” He resides in Paradise Valley, Arizona, with his wife, Gloria.

Visit Leon at his website

His book ~ 

The Polski Affair 

The Polski Affair is the story of Rosa Feurmann and others who found themselves as "guests" of the Hotel Polski during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. The Hotel mysteriously drew in Jewish survivors who wished to buy their way to freedom. Rosa, a Jewish partisan infiltrates the hotel. She is detected and comes under the personal control of the Hotel's Nazi Commandant. What she did to survive continues to haunt Rosa's life. She is called as a witness at the Commandant's War Crimes Trial in Heidelberg and years later, she attends a reunion of the surviving hotel `guests'. It is only upon her return to Israel that Rosa ultimately reconciles her inner conflicts.  

Read an excerpt ~

“But let me tell you the difference between life and research. You know that before I met your father, who is God’s gift to me, I was married to Peter Feurmann, a professor at the university in Warsaw. You have heard the story more than once. When I first met the colonel, he was respectful to me but did not permit me to ask any questions. I was his clerk and he gave me orders. On occasion he asked me to dine with him, and on one such occasion, he suggested that I call him, in private only, by his first name. As you now know, his first name is Peter. I became hysterical and accused him of having given the order to take my Peter and my two boys into the transport. My husband’s name was Peter and I could never call the colonel by that name. At that moment, I hated him, and despite the fact that he saved our lives, your father’s and mine, I continued to hate him, not for what he was, but for what he might have been. My testimony was true. I knew nothing about his sending people to Pawiak to be executed or taken to the death camps. Was he responsible? I don’t know. But, Sholom, as you said, he was a Gestapo colonel; handsome in his black boots. Did he save our lives? Yes, but it must come to an end. Your father had a wife and four children–gone; while he was out on a work detail for the Nazis … those animals. It is almost thirty year; a half of a lifetime and this bastard is still in my life. He comes to visit my son. For you, it is research. For me, it is the Holocaust. It is my husband and my children; it is Avram’s wife and it is Feygl’s entire family. You have heard of these stories. Put them into context, and perhaps you will understand my anger.”

Thanks to the publicist, I have one (1) copy of this book to giveaway 

GIVEAWAY  Rules for entering:

  • This contest is open to residents of USA & Canada residents only!
  • Please complete the form below - do not leave information in the comments - it will not count.
  • The contest will end on November 30, 2010 at 11:59PM EST; 1 winners will be selected and contacted thereafter.
  • Once the winner is contacted, they will have 48 hours to respond to my email or another winner will be chosen (make sure to check your spam filters!).
  • Book will be shipped directly from the publicist.