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Jeffrey Richards in Person

Join us on Thursday, March 21 at 7 PM as Jeffrey Richards talks about his new novel, We Are Only Ghosts. He will be joined in conversation by Kim van Alkemade.

Please register by clicking here

About the Book

An exhilarating, brutally candid saga about sexuality and war, tenderness and trauma, young desire and fierce hate, as a teenage boy’s unexpected, complicated relationship with a Nazi officer in a WWII death camp is resurrected in 1960s New York City.

We Are Only Ghosts depicts queer love against the horrors of death camps and the psychosis of those who got out alive—haunted forever by those who did not—balancing the violence and hatred of war and its aftermath with many poignant moments of tenderness and joy. For readers of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne, and Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart.

New York City, 1968: The customers at Café Marie don’t come just for the excellent coffee and pastries. They come for the sophisticated ambiance, and the illusion of being somewhere other than a bustling, exhausting city. Headwaiter Charles Ward helps create that illusion through impeccable service—unobtrusive, nearly invisible, yet always watchful.

It’s a skill Charles honed as a young Jewish boy in war-torn Europe, when avoiding attention might mean the difference between life and death. But even then, one man saw him all too clearly—a Nazi officer who was both his savior and tormentor.

At seventeen, Charles was deported to Auschwitz with his family. There he was singled out by Obersturmführer Berthold Werden, who hid him in his home. Their entanglement produced a tortured affection mixed with hatred that flares to life again, decades later, when Berthold walks into Café Marie.

Drawn back into Berthold’s orbit, Charles is forced to revisit the pain and the brief, undeniable pleasures of the life he once knew. And if he acts on his growing hunger for revenge, will he lose his only tether to the past—the only other witness to who he was and everything he endured—or find peace at last?

About the Author

Jeffrey L. Richards is an author and playwright. Originally from Oklahoma, he moved to New York nearly three decades ago and began writing seriously while enrolled in New York University. He now lives in New Jersey with his rescue dog, Andi, and can be found online at

About Kim van Alkemede 

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York City and spent her childhood in suburban New Jersey. She attended college in Wisconsin, studying English and History at UW-Parkside and earning a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. For many years, she was a professor at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania where she taught writing. Her creative nonfiction essays have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, So To Speak, and CutBank. She is a New York Times bestselling author of three historical novels: Orphan #8, Bachelor Girl, and Counting Lost Stars. She makes her home in Saratoga Springs, New York, with her partner, their two rescue dogs, and a couple of feisty backyard chickens.


This event is free and open to the public but we ask that you register at Eventbrite to let us know you will be there.

Event date: 
Thursday, March 21, 2024 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
9 College St
South Hadley, MA 01075
We Are Only Ghosts: A Remarkable Novel of Survival in the Wake of WWII By Jeffrey L. Richards Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496742810
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: A John Scognamiglio Book - February 20th, 2024

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