The Hollow Bones implores us to pay careful attention to the crucial lessons we might learn from our not-too-distant history.
'I remember you once told me about mockingbirds and their special talents for mimicry. They steal the songs from others, you said. I want to ask you this: how were our own songs stolen from us, the notes dispersed, while our faces were turned away?'
Berlin, 1936. Ernst Schäfer, a young, ambitious zoologist and keen hunter and collector, has come to the attention of Heinrich Himmler, who invites him to lead a group of SS scientists to the frozen mountains of Tibet. Their secret mission: to search for the origins of the Aryan race. Ernst has doubts initially, but soon seizes the opportunity to rise through the ranks of the Third Reich.
While Ernst prepares for the trip, he marries Herta, his childhood sweetheart. But Herta, a flautist who refuses to play from the songbook of womanhood and marriage under the Reich, grows increasingly suspicious of Ernst and his expedition.
When Ernst and his colleagues finally leave Germany in 1938, they realise the world has its eyes fixed on the horror they have left behind in their homeland.
A lyrical and poignant cautionary tale, The Hollow Bones brings to life one of the Nazi regime’s little-known villains through the eyes of the animals he destroyed and the wife he undermined in the name of science and cold ambition.
About the Author
Leah Kaminsky is a physician and award-winning writer. Her debut novel, The Waiting Room, won the prestigious Voss Literary Prize. She conceived and edited Writer MD, a collection of prominent physician-writers, which starred on Booklist and is co-author of Cracking the Code, with the Damiani family. She holds an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
"From the embers of history, Kaminsky weaves a cracking tale of adventure, competing loyalties and the folly of sacrificing reason on the ideological altar."
"In this prescient and thoughtful novel, a long-dead animal displayed in the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia murmurs about the wild places of its lost life, while the story of the scientist who destroyed it exposes the collaboration between totalitarianism, corrupted science and the slaughter of people and animals."
"Played out against the backdrop of impending war, The Hollow Bones is a Faustian tale of love, ambition and treachery. An ominous and beautiful novel that examines the dark appeal of power, and the lengths some men will go to achieve it."
"An evocative, harrowing story of one man’s obsession to preserve nature in a glass jar, The Hollow Bones reminds us creatures of the wild belong there and we destroy their habitat at our peril. Kaminsky has magically woven the dual narratives of past and present through a unique telling of such an important historical tale, which will thrill, enlighten and reward the reader."