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The Painting on Auerperg's Wall

Was the painting on Auerperg’s wall looted or was it a fair price to pay for rescuing a child from the Nazis so many decades ago? Zoltan Nagy, the legitimate heir, is pressured by his daughter to go to court and recoup his parents’ possessions. But Zoltan is also in love with the present owner of the painting. What if winning the court case means losing her?

What reviewers say about The Painting On Auerperg’s Wall: "Sexual obsession, mysterious art, dysfunctional family, and corrosive 20th century history come seamlessly together in this fast-paced psychological thriller."
Michael Mirolla, award-winning author of Berlin and
Lessons in Relationship Dyads

"In this taut, fast-moving novel, a tangle of mysteries surround two orphaned infants, a valuable painting, and identical twins who grow up leading very separate lives. The characters – and the reader—must puzzle over the way family secrets create false identities."
Charlotte Furth, author of
Opening to China: A Memoir of Normalization

The Effects of Isolation on the Brain

"From the chill of postwar Vienna to  Ontario's icy north, all is not as it seems in Erika Rummel's  fast-moving novel, where the dance of reality and role-play tease  and intrigue the reader. It's a book where sex, mayhem, and family  secrets combine to make the pages turn almost by themselves -- Carole Giangrande, author of

Additional information

Erika Rummel wins Random House Creative Writing Award for an excerpt from her book, The Effects of Isolation on the Brain

You can read the excerpt on-line at

You can also listen to a sample reading of The Effects of Isolation on the Brain at
Erika Rummel's above novels are available at

The Inquisitor's Niece

The path of true love never runs straight. Alonso and Luisa love each other. However there are a few obstacles to their happiness: the husband she was forced to marry; her uncle, the Regent of Spain; and Alonso’s heritage as a Jew.

Mix in the meddlesome Natale, whose loyalty is always to the highest bidder, and you have a story of a courageous couple determined to be happy together, despite the cards being stacked against them. Using the tumultuous period of Spain immediately following the deaths of Ferdinand and Isabella as her canvas, Erika Rummel paints a portrait of the era where Cardinals hold all the power, Jews are forcibly converted to Christianity yet still are not accepted in society, and spies are around every corner in every palace. Check it out at

* Read more on facebook and on Twitter@historycracks

* Listen to a review at

“Argentina 1979. Life has gone stale for Jim, an expat working in Catamarca. Everything is predictable until he meets Lisa. She has the starry eyes, the sensuous lips, and the tango steps that make all rational assumptions go away.  Jim gives her top marks for animation but there is a warning at the end of his tip sheet: Danger. Lisa is a little too intense, a little too crazy, a woman with too many scenes playing in her head.  Her antics don’t faze Santos, a spiritualist who is looking for a medium to channel the dead and attract his lost sister. He lures Lisa to his compound in northern Argentina, where she becomes a pawn in a deadly family feud.  Jim goes in search of Lisa. Tracking her down turns into a double mission – freeing Lisa from her captors and himself from the monotony of his life. It takes a fantastic journey through rugged country for Jim to realize that he loves Lisa just the way she is: unpredictable.  The story unfolds against the background of a country under military rule.  It is a place where kidnapping, violence, and death no longer make headlines, a place where you learn survival skills.”

“A fast-paced page turner. A suspenseful, thrilling roller coaster ride with lots of twisty, loopy sections”

“I recommend HEAD GAMES to literary thriller lovers.”

“Unique and entertaining adventure with heart”


Liz is waiting for her big break in Hollywood, when a different offer comes her way. The wealthy Naomi Baum, a bestselling author, asks Liz to impersonate her on the Ted Hillman Show. The reclusive Naomi cannot bear public appearances but is desperate to make contact with another guest on the show: Miro Bogdan, the son she abandoned as a baby. On the set, Liz gives a convincing performance as Naomi Baum and attracts the passions meant for the author. Miro, now a successful installation artist, harbours a deadly hatred for his mother and is plotting her murder. Ted Hillman, the host of the show, is fascinated with Naomi Baum and romances her stand-in. Liz gives a superb performance as Ted's love interest. But is it a performance, or is Liz beginning to live Naomi's life?

* Excerpts from the book, Playing Naomi


"Erika Rummel's meta-textual legerdemain, strange characters and twisted plot make for a bracing read."

Judith Fitzgerald in the Globe & Mail, 16 December 2009

Playing Naomi is a wry comedy whose self-knowing irony is reminiscent of the corrosive but jovial cynicism of such comic media satire as The Larry Sanders Show and The Newsroom."

Cynthia Sugars in University of Toronto Quarterly 80-2 (2011)

Reviews of the book posted on &

"Consummate writing skill...well-drawn characters...witty, thought-provoking...suspenseful."

"well-drafted and animated dialogue...compelling read...up to the surprise ending."

* Listen to a review and an excerpt from PLAYING NAOMI on Carole Giangrande's podcast.

Open Book Toronto"s ten questions about "Playing Naomi"

November 9, 2009 - Clelia Scala, Website Editor of Open Book Toronto

Erika Rummel answers Open Book's Ten Questions and tells us about her novel, Playing Naomi (Guernica Editions).

Open Book Toronto (OBT): Tell us about your latest book.

Erika Rummel (EM): Playing Naomi is set in Los Angeles. Liz is waiting for her big break in Hollywood, when a different offer comes her way: impersonating a reclusive millionaire on a talk show. Naomi Baum cannot bear public appearances, but she is desperate to make contact with another guest on the show – Miro Bogdan, the son she has abandoned as a baby. On the set, Liz attracts the passions meant for Naomi. Miro, an installation artist, harbours a deadly hatred for his mother and is plotting to kill her. Ted Hillman, the host of the show, is fascinated by Naomi and romances her stand-in. Liz gives a convincing performance, but is it a performance, or is Liz beginning to live Naomi’s life? The sinister events of the next day persuade her to go into hiding, but neither Miro nor Ted is willing to let her slip away. When the real Naomi dies of a heart attack, Liz takes over. Playing Naomi has turned into the role of her life.

OBT: Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

ER: Not really, but I’d say the book is for anyone asking: Who am I? And for anyone wondering: Have I just been playing roles all my life? And: If I go on like that, will I lose myself and turn into the person I am playing? We are all required to multitask and to play multiple roles: parent, professional, lover, friend. It’s becoming very difficult to sort out the authentic self. Playing Naomi is a parable of modern life.

OBT: Describe your ideal writing environment.

ER: At my desk. In my room. I am a creature of habit, and I like my routine. I start the day writing – if a commitment or a chore prevents me from writing in the morning, I’m unhappy. In the afternoon, I give it another try, but I often end up doing donkey work. Evening is reading or socializing time for me. To write, I have to read: it’s like fertilizing the brain.

OBT: What was your first publication?

ER: I published my first short story in Quarry thirty years ago. I was so elated I wanted to frame the cheque (it was about 30 dollars), but I needed the money.

OBT: Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

ER: Not recent, but running deep. I came to Canada in 1965 and lived on the Danforth, then an Italian enclave. An older man overheard me speaking German in the street. He shook his fist at me and my friend and said: “Speak English, you bloody wops!” He didn’t know German from Italian, but he knew he hated us because we were different. And so I always put something about xenophobia or intolerance into my pieces. I want to write that ugly experience out of my head and out of the Canadian mind.

OBT: If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

ER: I’d tailor the choice to the recipient. For myself, I’d choose: Susanna Moodie, Roughing it. Margaret Atwood, Surfacing. Mordecai Richler, Barney’s Version.

OBT: What are you reading right now?

ER: Benjamin Black (also writing as John Banville), The Lemur. Before that, I reread Mordecai Richler, Cocksure. It’s a wicked satire and gets better with each reading.

OBT: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

ER: I don’t know about "best advice." I consider all criticism good advice. I’d love to hear only praise, but criticism is more useful (if you can hack it, that is).

OBT: What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

ER: I have no recipe for success. I’ve published some twenty non-fiction books – intellectual history, biography, translation. I thought it would be easy to segue into fiction, but it wasn’t. In academe, if you do substantial original research and put your findings together in a well-structured and well-argued book, you are bound to get them published. There is no such formula for publishing fiction. A good story and word power are necessary, but not sufficient conditions to make it happen. I don’t know the missing ingredient: Marketing skills? A good agent? Friends in the right places? Or just plain dumb luck?

OBT: What is your next project?

ER: A historical novel set in 16th century Spain. Title: Alcala Here is my pitch: What happens when a Jewish physician falls in love with the niece of the Regent of Spain? Can the lovers dodge a corrupt, blackmailing priest and outwit the Inquisition?


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