This book consists of a set of letters from an unidentified writer to an unidentified recipient. In the letters, a writer sets forth his plans for a book about two children who were separated from their families during a war. He plans to invent a narration that will fully reveal their experiences during that war, experiences that are at the base of their reality, and the memory of which will also retrieve them from their present, supernumerary lives.
The two children, it develops, escaped the roundups of Jews in a city much like Paris during World War II. The book contains the story of their ambiguous survival, which may or may not be that of the author. Now, fifty years later, the two have re-established contact and plan a reunion in Israel.
In the last scene of the book two figures, their features obscured by the long shadows of evening, lean toward one another
as they speak from the confidence of their hearts. Also there, listening, is the writer of the letters that form the book. The novel ends
mysteriously, and so continues to vibrate in our imagination. To Whom it May Concern will join that short list of books we treasure
most deeply, those few statements that remind us of who we are, and of what we are capable.
"What Federman is trying to do, and does, in To Whom It May Concern: is not to present an autobiography, nor a meta-novel, nor a story about writing a story, but to form, from the bare essentials of words, feelings, and images, a story as intriguing as it is inspiring." —Illinois Writers Review
"To Federman's credit, his continuing narrative refiguration of the tragic ironies of his own personal history has served him well in his career. Like his friend and one-time mentor, the late Samuel Beckett, Federman has figured out a way to turn redudancy into a virtue." —The Buffalo News
"Federman avoids the specificity of time and place to cleverly manipulate narrative convention and expose the illusion of fiction. A worthy addition to the writings of the Holocaust, to be read not so much for plot as for its experimental style." —Booklist
Listen ... suppose the story were to begin with Sarah's cousin delayed for a few hours in the middle of his journey ... stranded
in the city werhe he and Sarah were born ... stranded at the airport ... many years after the great war which so deeply marked the cousins when
they were children ... yes suppose ... it would give him time to think ... to prepare himself for the reunion in the land of promises after years of
separation ... it's been thirty-five years since the two cousins last saw each other ... yes suppose ... then after the struggle with words has ended
I will step back and watch the lies fall into place to shape a truth ignobly wrestled onto the surface of the paper.
To Whom It May Concern:
To Whom It May Concern: