'Rodinsky's Room draws you in. So does the Lichtenstein/Sinclair study of it. It is extraordinary.' The Times
In 1969 David Rodinsky disappeared from his attic room above the synagogue at 19 Princelet Street in East London. For twenty years his room lay undisturbed, a chaos of writings, anotated books and maps, gramophone records and clothes. Artist Rachel Lichtenstein became obsessed with this mysterious man. Who was he? Where did he come from? Where did he go?
This extraordinary collaboration is part mystery story, part memoir, part travelogue - a testament to a world that has all but vanished, a celebration of the life of a unique man.
'The most absorbing book I've read in years. It is a wonderful story . Rodinsky's Room is many things: an inquiry into the nature of identity; a tale of mystery and suspense; a homage to the Jewish East End.' Observer
'Immensely readable. This is a highly original, entertaining and instructive book.' TLS
'Engrossing.' Time Out
This is the story of an investigation into a locked room mystery, of a vanishing Jew, of Lichtenstein's immigration back through time and her search of the shadows of the ghetto. What exactly is she seeking? Perhaps you believe in a sense of place - can the walls themselves be somehow imprinted by the events that took place there? If you find this idea difficult to imagine, then this book might just change your mind. David Rodinsky's attic room at the top of 19 Princelet Street is said to have an extraordinary and mysterious atmosphere. The famous Gralton photograph of the interior shows a large wardrobe spilling old clothes outwards while at the same time collapsing the space of the room into its mirror. The wardrobe is an entry to a hidden place, more mad than Alice's looking-glass. Lichtenstein spent days in the tiny room from which Rodinsky vanished, constructing an archaeology of the squalor that fleshes out the myth of the impoverished scholar driven beyond his limits in equal parts by hunger and the pursuit of arcane knowledge. Her project is a cultural one, a literal embalming of the arcana into art objects that help to stabilize the troublesome past of Spitalfields. Spitalfields is a mythic territory, and Sinclair is an obsessive cartographer. His dialogue with Lichtenstein is founded on the names of streets bound by historical webs of poverty and privations, echoing the madness and malignancy of this century's Jewish history. The presence of the past is as hard to see as smoke at dusk, yet Rodinsky is still here. Present, not just in the account of Lichtenstein and Sinclair, but between the words, a certain tempo, a measure of obsessive and arcane pursuits. (Kirkus UK)