Sigmund Freud is one of the best known figures in history, but what do we know about his sisters? With the Nazis closing in, Sigmund Freud is granted an exit visa and allowed to list the names of people to take with him. He lists his doctor and maids, his dog, and his wife's sister, but not any of his own sisters. The four Freud sisters are shuttled to the Terezín concentration camp, while their brother lives out his last days in London. Based on a true story, this searing novel gives haunting voice to Freud's sister Adolfina—“the sweetest and best of my sisters”—a gifted, sensitive woman who was spurned by her mother and never married. A witness to her brother's genius and to the cultural and artistic splendor of Vienna in the early twentieth century, she aspired to a life few women of her time could attain. From Adolfina's closeness with her brother in childhood, to her love for a fellow student, to her time with Gustav Klimt's sister in a Vienna psychiatric hospital, to her dream of one day living in Venice and having a family, Freud's Sister imagines with astonishing insight and deep feeling the life of a woman lost to the shadows of history.

Praise for FREUD'S SISTER:

“Ingenious, innovative, and insightful in narrating one against the other the intertwined biographies of Freud and his sister Adolfina, and of their contemporaries Gustav Klimt and his sister Klara, and in thereby illuminating the historical relationship between creation and unthinkable destruction, as well as between male and female destinies. A thought-provoking, vitally engaging reading experience for anyone who cares about the meaning of our world.” - Shoshana Felman

“Strong, multi-layered, obsessive [like] José Saramago.” —La Repubblica (Italy)

"A heir to Hermann Broch, Smilevski boldly alternates narrative parts to parts of reflection. - Il Fatto Quotidiano (Italy)

“Powerful . . . a discovery.” —RaiNews (Italy)

“A vivid, bracing work of fiction—one of those rare novels that does more than simply bring history to life. It gives life to facts, and shimmers with a kind of actual reality that seems truer than life itself.” - Jay Parini

"Freud's Sister pulls a figure from the margins of history in order to give her her time in the spotlight. Smilevski talks about hearing 'Adolfina's voice,' but the truth is closer to a spiritual visitation—Smilevski writes like a shaman wrestling the truth from a demon, and the message he delivers is heart-breaking, transformational, and relentless in its indictment of Sigmund Freud's life and philosophy. Rich in ideas and emotion, full of insights about family, madness, and the role of women in fin-de-siècle European society, Smilevski's novel ultimately resolves into a beautifully moving story of one life that might otherwise have disappeared from the historical consciousness." - Dale Peck

“An excellent novel . . . I cannot remember any book bringing me as much pleasure as [this one].” —Vesna Mojsova-Cepisevska (Macedonia)

"... original and enthralling novel titled Sigmund Freud's Sister. (...) [Adolfine's] narrating does not foloow the logic of a linear story, but it sinks into ownself and then returns by a thread that constantly breaks and continually renews. In the barocco and powerful vein of this gifted young writer (his novel is to be translated in many countries and was internationally awarded) the narrative is constructed not as a straight line but as a vortex. (...) It is a novel about the chtonic world of the sisters, that Smilevski opposes to the heaven - equally painful but ultimately triumphant - of the brothers, like a chorus of anonymous women that tell their own truth that opposes that of the male heroes of the tragedy". - Il Sole 24 Ore (Italy)

"It is a novel which makes one reflect much on psychoanalysis, on the rapport between the life of a successful genius, Freud, and those who chanced to live beside him. A novel which seems to answer many implicit questions about the human and intellectual environment in which psychoanalysis was born and also addresses wider existential themes. Through Adolfine’s life, the author seems to suggest that even if each of us is alone and determined by our destiny, we can construct an original and profound interpretation of life, even if our viewpoints will never be heard or met with success." - L'Osservatore Romano (Vatican)

"Impressive... A passionate novel..." - L'Espresso (Italy)

"Wise and moving." - Knack (Belgium)

“This gem of a book . . . is deeply moving. . . . A provocative discourse on sanity and perception . . . Unforgettable.” - Publishers Weekly (USA)

“Superb . . . Provocative and poignant . . . A sensitive portrayal and a well-crafted novel [that] offers keen insight into the Freud family dynamics.” —Kirkus Reviews (USA)

Anna Luyten, Stijn Vanheule and Goce Smilevski talk about Freud's Sister at Passa Porta, Brussels (recorded 06/06/2012). Intro: Ilke Froyen.