The Magazine

Washed Ashore

The secret story of how Izzy became Richard.

Jul 23, 2007, Vol. 12, No. 42 • By EDITH ALSTON
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But spanning events of 60 years, her redemptive view remains remote. No character makes a choice here as horrific as Sophie's, and no list here is as freighted as Schindler's. There was apparently a genuine legal drama in the last-ditch effort made to get the Quanza passengers ashore, and the resistance to helping them put up by the State Department was apparently despicable--a play out of the Playwrights' Theatre in Chicago, Steamship Quanza, has been built around this--before every passport was stamped, finally, with the 60-day landing visa that could stretch into a lifetime of safety. Here, though, such details are only lightly touched on, and the actual role played by Mrs. Roosevelt dissolves in a poetic cloud.

Basing her story on the life of her father, Victoria Redel is concerned less with the transition of all the Itzak Lejdels into Richard Leader than the degree of personal transgression that lies along the shifting border of truth when a child seeks out the real history of her parents. Ultimately, Sara does find what she needs to know.

Edith Alston is a writer and editor in New York.