Readers of Heather Morris’s The Tattooist of Auschwitz and watchers of The Queen’s Gambit won’t want to miss this amazing debut set during World War II. A young Polish resistance worker, imprisoned in Auschwitz as a political prisoner, plays chess in exchange for her life, and in doing so fights to bring the man who destroyed her family to justice.
THE LAST CHECKMATE
by Gabriella Saab
William Morrow/HarperCollins, October 2021
Maria is many things: daughter, avid chess player, and member of the Polish underground resistance in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Captured by the Gestapo she is imprisoned in Auschwitz, while her family is sent to their deaths. Realizing her ability to play chess, the sadistic camp deputy, Fritzsch, intends to use her as a chess opponent to entertain the camp guards. However, once he tires of utilizing her skills, he has every intention of killing her.
Befriended by a Catholic priest, Maria attempts to overcome her grief and see the value in survival. Literally playing for her life through four grueling years, her strategy is simple: Live. Fight. Survive. By cleverly provoking Fritzsch’s volatile nature in front of his superiors, Maria intends to orchestrate his downfall. Only then will she have a chance to evade the fate awaiting her and see him brought to justice.
As she carries out her plan and the war nears its end, she discovers Fritzsch has survived. And so Maria, vowing still to avenge the murder of her family, challenges her former nemesis to one final game, certain to end in life or death, in failure or justice. If Maria can bear to face Fritzsch—and her past—one last time.
List of foreign sales: Brazil (Dos Livros), Bulgaria (Book Travel), Czech Republic (Argo), Hungary (Cartaphilus Kiado), Italy (Newton Compton), Netherlands (Luitingh-Sijthoff), Poland (HC-Polska), Portugal (Casa das Letras), Romania (RAO), Russia (EKSMO), Spain (Newton Compton), Slovenia (HKZ)
Gabriella Saab graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing, and now works various jobs, including teaching barre classes. In researching for this novel, she traveled to Warsaw and Auschwitz to dig deeper into the experiences and setting of those who lived there.