A searing exploration of a man haunted by the horrors of the twentieth century, a man who feels he must be going mad but who finds a way out of the darkness.
Doriel is a European transplanted to New York who carries with him a profound sense of desperation and loss. His mother, a resistance leader, survives the war but dies in a car crash with her husband soon afterward. Doriel's longing for his parents, and a longing to know his family's secrets, haunts him and denies him the chance for happiness or intimacy with women. The intense study of Judaism offers him no solace; to the contrary, he comes to believe he is haunted by a dybbuk. His visits to Israel land him in anti-Zionist enclaves where only the coming of the Messiah is important.
A child during the war, all he knows of the Holocaust comes from movies, newsreels, and books. But it is enough. Five years of psychoanalysis brings him to a crossroads. Finally he comes to grips with his mother's secret -- a wartime affair -- and the process triggers in him a new understanding that only love can heal the most intimate of wounds.