I looked up the name in the phone book and rang the number. I tried to imagine the conversation that might ensue. ‘Hello? I was wondering if you’re the man who was recently at an auction and asked a woman named Bernadette if I was married and had children and was happy—and if you are, are you my real father?’
Ramona Koval’s parents were Holocaust survivors who fled their homeland and settled in Melbourne. As a child, Koval learned little about their lives—only snippets from traumatic tales of destruction and escape. But she always suspected that the man who raised her was not her biological father.
One day in the 1990s, long after her mother’s death, she decides she must know the truth. A phone call leads to a photograph in the mail, then tea with strangers. Before long Koval is interrogating a nursing-home patient, meeting a horse whisperer in tropical Queensland, journeying to rural Poland, learning other languages and dealing with Kafkaesque bureaucracy, all in the hope of finding an answer.