The public is invited to celebrate the recent release of "Where the Angels Lived: One Family’s Story of Exile, Loss, and Return" by Margaret McMullan at Left Bank Books on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. McMullan’s book traces her journey to Pecs, Hungary to research the life and death, in 1944, of a cousin whose existence she learned about by accident at Israel’s Holocaust Museum. Portions of "Where the Angels Lived" have appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post and The Montreal Review.

When asked why she became consumed with learning about Richárd, McMullan says “the simple answer is that [his] was the name that popped up on the data base at Yad Vashem. Here was my relative, a man I’d never heard of. And the archivist gave me this assignment: I had a familial duty to remember Richárd. Hitler’s aim was to wipe out the Jews — even their history. In many ways, he was successful. I was not going to let that happen to Richárd or the rest of the family.”

McMullan grew up ignorant of her Jewish ancestors mostly because her mother was so reluctant to talk about her past and because her maternal grandfather lied about his own family’s history – a fact that has haunted McMullan. “My grandfather converted from Judaism to Catholicism in the spring of 1938 when Hitler marched into Vienna [his home]… Who knows if he thought converting would save his life. My grandfather was an ambitious, forward-thinking man who did not want to be slowed down by his past or by his family. He might not have liked the family members he had left. He may have just wanted a fresh start when he came to America.”

McMullan further explains that she “wrote this book for myself, for my mother, and for my son. I [wanted] to fit all the pieces of my mother’s lost family together so that we would know who they were, who we all were. But then I realized this is also a universal story about a country, WWII, hatred, love and betrayal.

"Where the Angels Lived" has received international acclaim, including this from Joyce Carol Oates: “McMullan has written a beautiful and heartrending account of her pilgrimage to Hungary in the hope of retrieving what she can of the story of a distant Jewish relative, lost in the Holocaust. Written with… emotionally engaging prose, 'Where the Angels Lived' is a powerful testament of familial mourning as well as a vision of the 20th-century European history that is both searing and uplifting.”

McMullan is the author of seven previous novels, many of which are award-winners in the Young Adults genre. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and McMullen has taught writing at several colleges and universities throughout the country. She now writes full time from her home in Pass Christian, Miss.

Reservations for the free talk and signing are strongly encouraged; please email or call 338-9009. If you can’t make the signing, the bookshop is happy to take your order and have your book(s) signed for later pick up or shipment. Left Bank Books is located at 109 Church St., in the historic Opera House building. Ample parking is available on the street and in an adjacent public parking lot.