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Finding Home
(Hungary, 1945)

FINDING HOME (Hungary, 1945) explores the search for home, community and family where they no longer exist. An emotionally gripping, accessible tale illuminating a little-known piece of the Jewish post-war experience.

The war is over, but hatred has not surrendered.

Eighteen-year-old Eva Fleiss clung to sanity during nine months in Auschwitz by playing piano on imaginary keyboards. After liberation, Eva and the five remaining Jews of Laszlo, Hungary, journey to their hometown, seeking to restart their lives.

Yet the town that deported them is not ready to embrace their return. Their homes and businesses are legally in the hands of former neighbors and friends, who resist relinquishing their new-found wealth and status. Eva longs to pursue her dream of being a concert pianist, all that remains of her past life. She is forced to clean her own home in exchange for practice time on the piano. Her profound experiences in Auschwitz allow Eva to access music at a depth she did not know existed. Her performances begin to affect those around her, with unexpected consequences.

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What people are saying about Finding Home:

Original, intriguing, deftly crafted, [FINDING HOME] is all the more impressive when considering that this is author Dean Cycon's first novel. With a special appeal to readers with an interest in World War II fiction and Jewish literature, "Finding Home (Hungary 1945)" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library literary fiction collections. A novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf...

--James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review

FINDING HOME is a poetic, sweeping, and transportive story of Jewish returnees seeking to rebuild their lives after the war.  In a world where prejudice and greed haven’t ceased, and where displacement continues long after Liberation, Cycon gives us a powerful and emotional read, with faith, music, and beauty central to the search for home.
--Jennifer Rosner, award-winning author of The Yellow Bird Sings and Once We Were Home

The image of Eva Fleiss playing imaginary keys at Auschwitz to contain the madness that surrounds her is the epicenter of this beautiful novel. Like Ulysses returning to Ithaca, she will face a variety of tests that will define, for her and for us, the meaning of 'home' in a disrupted
world. A powerful debut!
--Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor at Amherst College and editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories

FINDING HOME examines the plight of Jews returning to their homes in Hungary after the end of World War II -- their relations with the post-war gentile community, the complexity of the emotions and issues involved, and the search for hope among ruins ... my eyes filled with tears -- not just of sadness, but of love -- many times. I loved this novel, and recommend it highly.
---Mitchell James Kaplan, author of Rhapsody, Into the Unbounded Night and By Fire, By Water

Book Club Kit

If you would like to inquire about scheduling an in-person or virtual book club discussion with Dean, email

Finding Home Reader's Guide

  1. Each of the Jewish characters responds to their trauma differently and creates a different path to try and reintegrate once they are home. Talk about the differences and how effective the strategies were.

  2. Townspeople had varying reactions to the return of the Jews to Laszlo. Discuss the reactions of the station master, the Mayor and his wife and Mor, the business owner. How did their reactions make you feel towards the characters? Is it important to understand their points of view? Why?

  3. Who were your favorite and least favorite characters? Why?

  4. How much did you know about the subject matter of the novel before reading it? Why do you think so few people outside of academia have heard of the difficult post-war experience of the Jews who tried to return to their homes after the war?

  5. In Laszlo, the names of the Jewish businesses and the streets were changed after the deportation, prompting Yossel to remark that the Jewish history of Laszlo was being erased. Currently, several Eastern European nations are rewriting their wartime histories to diminish the effect of the Holocaust, claiming that Jews were merely one of the many national minorities that suffered during the war. How do you feel about these revisions? Do you see similar actions today?

  6. Eva’s high school friend Andras says that he was confused during the war by the conflict between the incessant propaganda against Jews and what he knew to be true. He remarks that when all the authority figures and newspapers are saying something, even though it isn’t true it makes truth and lies “sort of equal”. How do you see that dynamic playing out in the world today? How do you confront this?

  7. Sergeant Ritook’s family demonstrates the intergenerational passing down of prejudice and hatred through the conversations between Grandfather and grandson Victor. How can we confront the passing down of prejudice in our own families?

  8. Greta transforms into a more sympathetic character as she gets to know Eva personally and is impacted by her music, ultimately giving back the house and the jewelry. Do you think this is realistic? Is getting to know people personally an effective means of overcoming prejudice?

  9. Eva learns that Izidor’s mother didn’t want him to know he was Jewish or be raised Jewish in America, Eva wonders if this means the Nazis won, while the mother feels that being Jewish is such a burden due to anti-Semitism that this is the only way to protect her child. What do you think of the mother’s choice?

  10. When the town deports its German descendant population, Oskar shouts approvingly from the sidelines. Yossel remarks that “we are now the bystanders”. Have you ever been a bystander to an injustice? Can you note without judgment the reasons why you didn’t intervene?

  11. Music is such a powerful force. Eva wants to use it to improve the world, but Professor Karady tells her that it can also be a force for evil. Can you think of examples of either or both?

  12. Eva comes to the conclusion that she will never find home in Laszlo, but she feels a sense of home, family and community in the former Jewish ghetto in Budapest. Discuss Eva’s trajectory here and what considerations and experiences lead her to this conclusion.

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