The Lost is about the writer's search for the truth as to what happened to his grandfather's brother, wife and four children. Growing up listening to his grandfather's stories and the rich way he told them about the old life in Europe. Where it was said you could be born in Austria, grow up in Poland get married in Russia and die in the Ukraine, with out ever leaving town.
The search takes him to the small Ukrainian town where his family has lived for three hundred years, to speak with eye witnesses of events. His travels will take him to Israel, Australia, Sweden and Denmark, to name a few.
He has to become a detective listening to what these eye witnesses have to say and what they hold back, cross referencing these stories one to the other. It's part memoir, part mystery, and part scholarly work.
Daniel Mendelsohn speaks of his grandfather never telling a story from its beginning to end, but rather jumping around and pulling in other pieces, which hold you spell bound and I think this is how he has told this memoir. It unfolds like one of those paper finger puzzles you used to play with as a child. Lifting one corner peeking underneath and closing it back up again.
Daniel Mendelsohn is a Hebrew, Greek and Latin scholar and I found this to be of interest in the book with his definitions of words and references from the Bible and Torah.
"Sunt lacrimae rerum, there are tears in things."