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What to expect

The former director of the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm makes his literary debut with this dramatic and riveting novel of book publishing, émigrés, spies, and diplomats in World War II Sweden based on his grandfather’s life

In 1933, after Hitler and the Nazi Party consolidated power in Germany, Immanuel Birnbaum, a German-Jewish journalist based in Warsaw, is forbidden from writing for newspapers in his homeland. Six years later, just months before the German invasion of Poland that ignites World War II, Immanuel escapes to Sweden with his wife and two young sons.

Living as a refugee in Stockholm, Immanuel continues to write, contributing articles to a liberal Swiss newspaper under the name Dr. B. He becomes increasingly entangled with British intelligence agents who plan several acts of sabotage on the orders of Winston Churchill. But when the Swedish postal service picks up a letter written in invisible ink, clearly by Dr. B. himself, the Allied plotters are exposed. But could a Jew living in exile and targeted for death by the Nazis have wanted to tip them off?

Illuminated by the wartime experiences of the author’s grandfather, Dr. B. is a riveting story of émigrés, spies and diplomats that shines a light on a forgotten corner of World War II history.

‘A superb thriller, a cross between Tom Stoppard’s Travesties and The Thirty-Nine Steps … You can’t put it down. This is an astonishing debut and Daniel Birnbaum is clearly a talent to look out for’ The Jewish Chronicle

If you’re looking for a ridiculously brilliant story, you can stop looking … He’s got the world’s best story – he’s got Dr B’ Svenska Dagbladet

An astonishing thriller-novel … reminiscent of both Hjalmar Söderberg’s Doctor Glass as well as the dreamy melancholy in The Rings of Saturn by W.G Sebald’ Aftonbladet

A moving evocation of a life beset by conflicts in a troubled time’ Kirkus Reviews

Critics Review

  • ‘A superb thriller, a cross between Tom Stoppard’s Travesties and The Thirty-Nine Steps, full of mysteries, twists and turns … You can’t put it down. This is an astonishing debut and Daniel Birnbaum is clearly a talent to look out for’ The Jewish Chronicle

    If you’re looking for a ridiculously brilliant story, you can stop looking … He’s got the world’s best story – he’s got Dr B’ Svenska Dagbladet

    Dr B is an astonishing thriller-novel … reminiscent of both Hjalmar Söderberg’s Doctor Glass as well as the dreamy melancholy in The Rings of Saturn by W.G Sebald … This moral ambiguity makes Dr. B. no less fascinating a character than Stefan Zweig’s version of the same’ Aftonbladet

    A moving evocation of a life beset by conflicts in a troubled timeKirkus Reviews

    ‘Illuminating … Birnbaum skillfully delineates the social and political tensions shaping a culture caught between the national interests of Germany and Russia, and he poignantly conveys the plight of individuals for whom each day is a potential tragedy waiting to happen’ Publishers Weekly

    ‘Who was Dr. B.? A spy? A member of the resistance? A journalist manipulated by competing political forces in the Casablanca of the North that was Stockholm during World War II? Dr. B brings to life the feverish atmosphere of the capital … where Immanuel Birnbaum becomes entangled in a whirlwind of confusing intrigueLe Monde

    A spy novel as complex as it is captivatingDr. B. evokes so vividly the apocalyptic chaos of 1939-40 Stockholm, where different political forces jockey for power … and Immanuel Birnbaum, Dr. B, finds himself caught in the confusion’ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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