But You Did Not Come Back

Marceline Loridan-Ivens
Translated by Sandra Smith

A runaway bestseller in France, But You Did Not Come Back is the breathtaking, deeply moving and critically acclaimed memoir of a survivor of the Holocaust.

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Marceline Loridan-Ivens was just fifteen when she was arrested by the Vichy government’s militia, along with her father. He prepared her for the worst, telling her that he would not return. They were soon separated. The three kilometres between her father in Auschwitz and herself in Birkenau were an insurmountable distance, and yet he managed to send her a small note via an electrician in the camp – a sign of life.

In But You Did Not Come Back, Marceline writes a letter to the father she would never know as an adult, to the man whose death enveloped her whole life. Her testimony is a haunting and challenging reminder of one of the worst crimes humanity has ever seen, and an affecting personal story of a woman whose life was shattered and never totally rebuilt.

Critic Reviews

The year has barely started but already one of the most beautiful books of the year has been published. Short, dense, powerful, in a word: overwhelming, with a simplicity of expression and a skill for creating an image ... you will read it in one sitting. An arrow launched by a keen memory.

Le Parisien
Critic Reviews

Film-maker, writer, activist, Marceline Loridan-Ivens was deported at the age of 15, together with her father. She survived, but he did not. Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, she takes up a dialogue with him, in But You Did Not Come Back ... This book is a letter. The letter of a little girl to her father, the man with whom she was deported at the age of 15, in 1944. Then she was four feet eight inches, her shoe size 1.5. She has not grown much since. You can still see this little girl very clearly in the rebellious, cheerful, and slightly cloaked face of this petite woman of eighty-six.

Elle (France)
Critic Reviews

Marceline Loridan-Ivens gives us a valuable lesson. ... A lesson of survival and of life, describing ... how one can cope with the worst of all things without ever losing your dignity. You read this with tears welling up in your eyes. ... I'll say it again: read it. ... [An] important book, [one] book you'll never forget.

Challenges Magazine
Critic Reviews

In literature, every so often, there comes a miracle, a book, a text, an author, a writing style, a way of recounting something, refusing any pathos and any exposition, saying things about life and death. I'm evoking But You Did Not Come Back.

Le Magazine Littéraire

Marceline Loridan-Ivens was born in 1928. She has worked as an actress, a screenwriter, and a director. She directed The Birch-Tree Meadow in 2003, starring Anouk Aimée, as well as several documentaries with Joris Ivens. Marceline died in 2018.

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