Austin Ratner: The Jump Artist

Austin Ratner


Philippe Halsman was famous for photographing the 20th Century’s greatest names jumping in mid-air – from Dali to Monroe, Hitchcock to Picasso.

But his professional renown masked the shocking tragedy haunting his life. In 1928 aged twenty-two Halsman was unjustly accused of murdering his father in the Austrian Alps. The anti-semitism of the sensational Halsman case foreshadowed the Holocaust. Albert Einstein and Thomas Mann spoke out on his behalf and Sigmund Freud was called in to testify.

Jewish Book Week 2013 was the author’s first appearance in Britain.

Drawing from historical sources Ratner has crafted a stunning work of fiction. He discovered the Halsman case when he typed ‘psychoanalysis and murder’ into Google, and eventually abandoned a medical career to turn it into a novel. Only later did he realise that an Einstein portrait by Halsman had hung on his bedroom wall through his teenage years.

Austin Ratner

Austin Ratner\'s debut novel The Jump Artist tells of Halsman’s journey from prison to fame and triumph over injustice. Originally published by a tiny US press, the book won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in 2011.

A.D. Miller

A.D. Miller is the author of Snowdrops, The Earl of Petticoat Lane and The Faithful Couple. Snowdrops was a bestseller and was shortlisted for many prizes including the Man Booker and the CWA Gold Dagger. It was translated into 25 languages. As Moscow Correspondent of The Economist A.D. Miller has travelled across the former Soviet Union and covered the Orange Revolution in Ukraine; he is now the magazine’s Culture Editor based in London. His new novel Independence Square, a tale of revolution and betrayal set between Kiev and London, is published in February.