July 15, 2023

THE POSTCARD by Anne Berest

Publication Date: May 16, 2023

Print Length: 464 pages

Winner of the Choix Goncourt Prize, the Prix Renaudot des lyceens

Previous Author Publications

  • La Fille de son pere (2010)
  • Les Patriarches (2012)
  • How to be a Parisian wherever you are, written with Audrey Diwan, and Caroline de Maigret (2014)
  • Sagan, 1954 (2014)
  • Recherche femme parfait, (2015)
  • Gabriele, written with Claire Berest, (2017)
  • La Visite, (2020)


In this autobiographical novel, Anne Berest traces the history of her relatives who died during the Holocaust. Even though she fictionalized the name of the  French village where her relatives once lived and uses pseudonyms, Berest offers a true-to-life account of how her Jewish family struggled to survive while the Germans occupied Vichy France during World War II.

After a postcard arrives at her mother’s house that listed the names of four family members who were killed in Auschwitz in 1942, Berest sets out to uncover her family’s secrets. With her mother’s help, she unravels her family’s complicated past in Russia, Latvia, Palestine and France and learns to appreciate her Jewish heritage.


Orringer, Julie. “An autobiographical novel reclaims a Jewish history in Occupied France.” The New York Times, May 15, 2023. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/16/books/review/anne-berest-the-postcard.html

Camhi, Leslie. “The anonymous postcard that inspired a French best-seller.” The New Yorker. May 22, 2023. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/the-anonymous-postcard-that-inspired-a-french-best-seller

Elkin, Lauren. “An eerie piece of mail leads to a family mystery.” The Washington Post. May 16, 2023. https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2023/05/16/postcard-anne-berest-review/

Kaplan, Mitchell, “Anne Berest on diving into her history for The Postcard.” LitHub, June 9, 2023. https://lithub.com/anne-berest-on-diving-into-her-history-for-the-postcard/


  • Berest was motivated to write her family’s story to ensure that her relatives would not be forgotten. What duty do we have to keep alive the memories of those relatives who came before us?

  • Berest’s book is listed as a novel even though it stays true to her family’s history. In what ways do Berest’s story-telling techniques make her family come alive?

  • Throughout her book, Berest details how the past lives on through the present, a phenomenon that she calls the invisible inheritance. In what ways did the legacy that Berest inherited affect her life and impact the life choices she and her sister made?

  • As Berest is researching the persecution of the Jews in France during World War II, she struggles to address the antisemitism her daughter is experiencing at school. In what ways is discrimination against the Jews still present in our current lives?

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Every month I offer a Book Club suggestion that highlights authors who write about their family history and explore themes of identity.
If you have books you would like to recommend, contact me at: kaia@kaiagallagher.com

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