The Street Sweeper

Publisher: Bond Street Books
From the civil rights struggle in the United States to the crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau, there are momentous stories everywhere. But only some survive to become history.
 
Lamont Williams is a black man from the Bronx trying to return to a normal life after serving a six-year prison term for a crime for which he was wrongly convicted. Historian Adam Zignelik is an untenured Columbia professor whose career and long-term relationship are falling apart. When Lamont Williams strikes up an unlikely friendship with a patient at the hospital where he works as a janitor, he learns about the Sonderkommando--prisoners forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria of the Nazi extermination camps. Meanwhile, Adam pursues a promising research topic suggested by a World War II veteran, a topic that might just save him professionally and even personally. When the lives of these two men intersect, history comes to life in ways neither of them could have foreseen.
 
The Street Sweeper is an astonishing feat of storytelling that addresses the personal and the political as it sweeps across the globe, through the seminal events of the twentieth century to the present. Honest, hypnotic and redemptive, this is a novel that explores the responsibility of the historian, the weight of history on all of us, and the crucial role that bearing witness plays in breaking the cycle of human cataclysm.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Seneca,
the first frozen apple juice,
enriched with vitamin C.
Rich, delicious Seneca . . .
 
Memory is a wilful dog. It won’t be summoned or dismissed but it cannot survive without you. It can sustain you or feed on you. It visits when it is hungry, not when you...
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PRAISE FOR

“An extraordinary tale powerfully told, The Street Sweeper reveals how individual people matter in history, how unexpected connections can change lives, and how the stories we hear affect how we see the world. It’s a tremendously moving work that deserves to be read and remembered.”
The Globe and Mail

The Street Sweeper is an impressive literary achievement, complex in its organization, meticulous in its plotting and deeply satisfying in its emotional payoffs.”
The Wall Street Journal
 
“Humane, compelling and convincing . . . artfully structured and well written.”
The Sunday Times
 
Street Sweeper . . . demonstrates how history and fiction can converge to tell stories that cry out to be remembered.”
The Telegraph (UK)
 
“Perlman offers an affecting meditation on memory itself, on storytelling as an act of healing.”
The Guardian (UK)

“An extraordinary tale powerfully told, The Street Sweeper reveals how individual people matter in history, how unexpected connections can change lives, and how the stories we hear affect how we see the world. It’s a tremendously moving work that deserves to be read and remembered.”
The Globe and Mail

“An expertly told novel of life in immigrant America—and of the terrible events left behind in the old country.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Brilliantly makes personal both the Holocaust and the civil rights movement.... A moving and literate page-turner.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Perlman’s compulsively readable wrestle-with-evil saga is intimate and monumental, wrenching and cathartic.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“In the best kind of books, there is always that moment when the words on the page swallow the world outside — subway stations fly by, errands go un-run, rational bedtimes are abandoned — and the only goal is to gobble up the next paragraph, and the next, and the next…. [The Street Sweeper is] a towering achievement: a strikingly modern literary novel that brings the ugliest moments of 20th-century history to life, and finds real beauty there.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A sprawling work, generous in its spirit and in breadth of imagination, unabashed in its liberal humanism.”
The Age

“A rich, engaging story of New York. [Perlman is] an author of rare erudition and compassion. The Street Sweeper is his boldest work yet and, quite probably, the one that will win him a greater following.”
The Washington Post

“[An] ambitious yet thoughtful novel.”
The Independent (UK)