Presentation of the books “Raphael” & “You Believe” by Lea Cohen

13.06.2019; 7 PM; “Sofia” Gallery

The Bulgarian Cultural Institute London cordially invites you to the Presentation of the books “Raphael” & “You Believe” by Lea Cohen.

Special guest: Lea Cohen

Free registration for the event HERE.

About the books


Raphael Arie (real personality from the first half of the XX century) is not interested in politics – his main care is women beauty. By fate he is sentenced after a big court trial.

In the early hours on 16th April 1943 in the prison cell of Sofia jailhouse he anticipates an amnesty from the King. Between midnight and six o’clock in the morning Raphael is trying to put together all the pieces of an enormous puzzle and seek the reason for his trial. The truth comes to him in the morning with the King’s final decision…

More than 70 years later, in Dallas, Texas, Dede-Arie-Baker, the last living member of the family who witnessed the events from 1943, celebrates her 94th Birthday. On this day she has a very strange visit. Mr. David Goodman from “Good life” incurrence company asks Dede some questions that bring her back to the story of her family. At first, her story starts as a test for her memory. Later her words become Raphael’s confession.

The action of the novel develops against the background of three harrowing episodes from the new Bulgarian history: the terrorist attack in “Sveta Nedelya” cathedral from 1925, the banditism and the abductions in the early 30s and the trials against the “Jewish speculators” from 1942-1943, conducted by the Government (controlled by Berlin).

The novel reveals the true criminal intrigue, which the author Lea Cohen has found in the archives.

According to Dede Baker’s memories, the Aries family are resurrected as the most prominent representatives of the Bulgarian perfume industry until 1943.

“You believe”

Based on extensive research and a huge body of documented evidence in “You believe” Lea Cohen shares her view on the Holocaust and the related events in the Kingdom of Bulgaria and its neighbouring countries between 1940 and 1944. The book is about saving some Jews and not saving others, about ruthless persecutions, but also about that „saving resistance“ of various society circles and the Jews themselves that saved 48 000 Bulgarian Jews from being deported to the camps of death in Poland.

For the first time in this book we see published and analyzed documents from the Swiss diplomatic archives, which reveal a new, unknown so far page in that story: the dramatic struggle to save 4500 children from Macedonia and Western Thrace, which ended in a spectacular failure. “You believe” (the title being a quotation from Simon Wiesenthal, the legendary hunter of Nazi criminals) contains numerous previously unseen pictures, collected by the author from personal and private collections, from the State Archives in Bulgaria and Germany, from the funds for Holocaust research in Jerusalem, Washington and Skopje.

This is a shattering story in eight parts that follows the most dramatic events in Bulgaria’s modern history.

About the author

Lea Cohen is one of the most successful Bulgarian writers during the last two decades.

She has written 10 novels, one theatre play and two screenplays: one is based on her novel The Sounds Hunter and another on her last novel Raphael (2017, with the support of Claims Conference in New York). Both screenplays have received the support of Bulgarian National Film Fund.

In 2010 Zsolny Verlag, Vienna published in German her novel Das Calderon Imperium. The book was nominated for many national and international prizes.

In 2013 the Spanish publishing house Libros del Asteroide translated into Spanish the novel La Estratagema.  The book became in Spain the book of August.

In 2013 her book You Believe. Eight views on the Holocaust in the Balkans was also translated into English and into Macedonian.

The novel The Piano of the Block 31 (2012) was prized by Goethe Institute and translated into more than 10 languages.

Former diplomat, ambassador and prominent cultural figure (she was Director of Sofia Philharmonic and Director of the international festival Sofia Music Weeks), Lea Cohen has a very rich life experience.  Some of her novels are subjects the contemporary life in post-communist Bulgaria (The Presidential Candidate, Farewell from Brussels). She is also the only Bulgarian writer, literarily describing the very painful period in the Balkan’s history between 1940-1944 when 12000 Jews from the occupied by Bulgaria territories were deported to the death camps in occupied Poland and others 48000 inside Bulgaria have survived despite persecutions, robbery and humiliations (Consortium Alternus, The Diaries’ Collector, Raphael).

She is regularly participating in conferences in Bulgaria and abroad (France, Germany, USA, Italy, Macedonia, Bosnia, Romania, Switzerland)

Lea Cohen lived in Sofia and Switzerland.

She was elected a president of two Bulgarian associations:

Bulgarian women writers

Bulgarian Association of Holocaust survivors and their children.

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