Reviewed By  Nan van Dissel       October 23, 2020


Author  Alex Miller

Distributor:      Allen & Unwin
ISBN:                 9781760878160
Publisher:         Allen & Unwin
Release Date:   October 2020  


In 2012, after writing a dozen novels and a collection of essays and stories, Alex Miller award winning author, felt that the time had come to research his best friend, inspiration and mentor, Max Blatt’s life and write his biography. Max, a German, Polish Jew had described his life to his dear friend Alex, as futile; a failure who had achieve nothing. Alex was to prove otherwise.

Alex met Max when he was a man in his fifties who shared with him his love of literature, music and silence. The author and his wife, Stephanie travelled to Germany, Poland and Israel to uncover the story of Max; to put together the broken pieces of the story Max had given him. Having little knowledge of Max’s life before he arrived in Australia didn’t deter Alex; what he did glean, came from books and letters written about the Nazi takeover in Germany.

Assisted by researchers, friends and Max’s remaining family (many had died during the Holocaust) and his niece, Liat, Alex was able to uncover and fill in the blanks. Visiting places of significance in Max’s early life, he walked the streets he probably walked as a boy, saw the No21 tram stop which Max took to the centre and viewed the building where the Gestapo tortured him.

This beautifully written but haunting book, provides the reader with not only the missing pieces of Max’s remarkable life, but also a clearer understanding of Jewish life in Wroclaw, the place of Max’s early years.

Max is a wonderful work of non-fiction, which transports the reader to the difficult times of Max’s life, his challenges, his ultimate escape to China and final place of exile, Australia. It sensitively explains Max’s reasons for not choosing death but silence and obscurity; a book not to be missed.