A ham radio is an innocuous hobby for Josef Klein until he falls in with a group of German immigrants for whom a radio is much more than a pastime, and he quickly discovers these acquaintances have other plans in store for him.
Josef lands on the shore in 1939 New York, eager to start a new life and assuage the guilt of leaving a brother and family members behind as WWII catapults into high gear. The story moves between New York, postwar Germany, and South America. In New York, Josef, now Joe, attempts to assimilate. He meets a young woman; he experiences Italian food for the first time, and he moves to Harlem where Jazz establishments become his escape. Ms. Lenze immerses the reader in the changed and changing world Joe lives in and the homeland he returns to only to be met with a dubious reception by his brother’s family. With the backdrop of war, Joe’s life unravels, and he has to endure the consequences of crossing his wires and make a hard decision between his family, homeland, and new home and where his loyalties will fall.
The Radio Operator by Ulle Lenze, published by HarperVIA 2020, 287p.