The Book of Joseph


The real-life story of Joseph A. Hollander, a wealthy Polish attorney who had the foresight to leave Krakow before the Final Solution. Knowing the fate of the Jewish population under Nazi rule, he and his wife escaped the Holocaust and made a life for themselves in America. But their life is overshadowed by the knowledge that many family members chose to stay—not wanting to leave their homes, having faith in basic human decency, and believing they would come to no harm. In the U.S., Joseph receives letters from family members trapped in Poland during World War II. Their letters document life under occupation. From America, Joseph does everything he can to help his family escape, but the papers he acquires for them and the letters he writes all disappear. His letters are lost along with his family. Nevertheless, Joseph keeps the letters he received from his family and stores them away in his attic. It’s not until after his death that the letters are discovered by Joseph’s son, Richard Hollander. These letters are the inspiration for the play.
Format: Full-length play
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes


Original or Prominent Production: Chicago Shakespeare Upstairs Theater, February to March 2017.
Original Source Material: The real-life story of the Hollander family.
Nationality of Author:
Original Language: English
Production Rights Holder:

See playwright Karen Hartman’s website.