By Sasha Abramsky
This can be the tale of Sasha Abramsky's grandparents, Chimen and Miriam Abramsky, and in their distinct domestic at five Hillway, round the nook from Hampstead Heath. of their semi-detached apartment, so deceptively usual from the surface, the Abramskys created a notable condo of Books. It turned the repository for Chimen's choice of hundreds of thousands upon millions of books, manuscripts and different revealed, handwritten and painted files, representing his trip in the course of the nice political, philosophical, non secular and moral debates that experience formed the western global. Chimen Abramsky was once slightly whilst his father, a well-known rabbi, was once arrested by way of Stalin's mystery police and sentenced to 5 years tough labour in Siberia, and fifteen whilst his relations was once exiled to London. missing a school measure, he however grew to become a polymath, regularly keen about gathering principles, with shooting the meanderings of the human soul throughout the international of significant recommendations and thinkers. Rejecting his father's Orthodoxy, he grew to become a Communist, made his dwelling as a book-dealer and collected an immense, and astonishingly infrequent, library of socialist literature and memorabilia. dissatisfied with Communism and belatedly recognising the barbarity on the middle of Stalin's undertaking, he reworked himself once again, this time right into a liberal and a humanist. To his socialist library used to be additional a vastrove of Jewish historical past volumes. Chimen ended his profession as Professor of Hebrew and Jewish stories at UCL, London and infrequent manuscripts professional for Sotheby's. along with his spouse Miriam, Chimen made their residence a focus for left-wing highbrow Jewish existence: hundreds and hundreds of the world's best thinkers, from at their desk. the home of Twenty Thousand Books brings alive this latter-day salon by means of telling the tale of Chimen Abramsky's love affair with principles and with the realm of books and of Miriam's obsession with being a hostess and with unique. Room through room, publication by way of publication, inspiration through thought, the realm of those politically engaged intellectuals, autodidacts and dreamers is lovingly resurrected. during this amazing elegy to a misplaced international, Sasha Abramsky's passionate narrative brings to existence once again not only the Hillway salon, however the principles, the conflicts, the personalities and the human yearnings that lively it. 'The sheer richness of this marvellous booklet – by way of its type, imagine Borges, Perec – amply enhances the wondrous complexity of the kin – by way of its subject-matter, imagine the Eitingons, the Ephrussi – approximately which Sasha Abramsky writes so lovingly. And as a portrait of London's left-wing Jewish highbrow existence it's definitely with no equal.' Simon Winchester 'I enjoyed this touching and heartfelt party of a student, instructor and bibliophile, a guy whose profound studying was once fine-tempered via humane knowledge and self-knowledge. we would we all envy Sasha Abramsky in owning this type of striking grandfather, heroic in his integrity and evoked for us right here with genuine eloquence and affection.' Jonathan Keates 'Sasha Abramsky has mixed 4 types of heritage – familial, political, Jewish, and literary – into one remarkable and compelling ebook. With him as an erudite and delicate advisor, any reader can be thankful for the chance to be immersed into the home of twenty thousand books.' Samuel Freedman 'The condo of Twenty Thousand Books is a grandson's elegy for the vanished international of his grandparents' residence in London and the exuberant, passionate jostling of 2 traditions ¬– Jewish and Marxist – that intertwined in his growing to be up. it's a attention-grabbing memoir of the deadly come across among Russian Jewish longing for freedom and the Stalinist...