‘A beautifully told story of personal discovery… and a harrowing portrait of living, dying and surviving under the yoke of Nazism’ – John Le Carré
‘Absolutely remarkable’ – Edmund de Waal
In conversation with C. J. Schüler
2pm, Thursday 22 April, on the Authors’ Club YouTube channel
There is a Czech saying – The darkest shadow is beneath the candle.
As a little girl growing up in 1970s Venezuela, Ariana wanted to be a detective. With no real mysteries to solve, her childish curiosity led her to focus on the enigma of her own father, a brilliant industrialist who appeared to be the epitome of success and strength but who would wake in the night screaming in a language that she didn’t recognise.
Then, one day, she found an old identity document bearing his picture but someone else’s name. It was the first of many clues that she was to uncover in the years to come. They led her to a box of papers that he had left for her when he died in 2001. The box contained wartime documents that opened the door to her father’s past and finally gave her the permission he had long withheld to step through it. Her inquiries led her to trace long-lost relatives and to other boxes, filled with hundreds of documents about a family that had remained veiled in silence.
Ariana meticulously uncovers the truth of her father’s extraordinary escape from Nazi-occupied Prague and seemingly inevitable deportation to the camps. Her painstaking investigation leads her across continents and reveals his astonishing and courageous choice to assume a fake identity and live out the war undercover, spying for the allies in Berlin itself – at the heart of the Nazi empire, deep in the ‘darkest shadow’.
Ariana Neumann was born and grew up in Venezuela. She previously worked as a foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s The Daily Journal and her writing has also appeared in The European. She currently lives in London with her family. When Time Stopped is her first book.