A debut novel and dual narrative about the lives of two women who have both owned a painting by Chaim Soutine at different points in history. Two different families, two very different devastations
THE ART OF LOSING
by Ellen Umansky
William Morrow, February 2017
Rose, ripped from her family as a young girl, finds herself in London in the grey years of deprivation following World War II. Everything lost, she focuses on finding the objects she knows were looted from her parents’ home in Vienna, specifically the painting that her mother had cherished. Many years later, the painting finds its way to America, and for Lizzie, the portrait comes to symbolize losing her mother and attempting to start life over. In present-day Los Angeles, the two women—one young, one now old– meet and an unexpected friendship blooms, even as long-held secrets threaten them both. With impeccable prose, a strong sense of place, and unforgettable characters, the two stories are woven together brilliantly, with surprises along the way. THE ART OF LOSING is a deep examination of the bonds, desires, and losses that make up each of us. The novel features the artwork of the Jewish artist Chaim Soutine who died in France during World War II while in hiding from the Nazis. While this is fiction, the details in the novel about the artist’s life and paintings are based on historical fact.
Ellen Umansky has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of venues, including The New York Times, The Paris Review and Vanity Fair, and the short-story anthologies “Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction From The Edge and Sleepaway”.