In 1940, as the Nazis sweep toward Lithuania, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara defies his government and secretly issues visas to fleeing Jewish refugees. After the war, Sugihara is dismissed and disappears into obscurity.
Three decades later, in Australia, Rachel Margol is shocked when her engagement reveals a long-held family secret: she is Jewish. As she grapples with this deception and the dysfunction it has caused, unspoken tragedies from the past begin to come to light. When an opportunity arrives to visit Chiune Sugihara, the man who risked his life to save the Margols during World War II, Rachel becomes determined to meet him. But will a journey to Japan, and the secrets it uncovers, heal the family or fracture them for good?
In this episode Gregory Dobbs chats to Linda Margolin Royal about the origins of this story in her own family history, the plight of Jewish refugees in Lithuania in 1940, and the remarkable Japanese diplomat who risked his own life to save others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Linda Margolin Royal was born in Sydney, forever thankful her father and grandparents received life-saving transit visas from Chiune Sugihara in 1940, which enabled them to enter Japan and escape the Holocaust; and ultimately meant they could find a permanent, safe home in Australia in 1941. The remainder of her family numbering in the hundreds were murdered in concentration camps.
Linda trained as a graphic designer and then copywriter. She spent 30 years in the advertising industry both in Australia and the US, writing TV, radio and press for major multinationals. Her first instinct was to write her family’s story as a film, which is currently in development; and the book grew organically from this screenplay.
Linda’s creative bent extends to abstract painting and drawing from live models – skills she has carried through life from her time in design school. The Star on the Grave is her first novel.