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The CBS New York Book Club talks to Mitch Albom about "The Little Liar"

CBS New York Book Club meetup with author Mitch Albom
CBS New York Book Club meetup with author Mitch Albom 30:44

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Mitch Albom meets with the CBS New York Book Club 

The CBS New York Book Club with Mary Calvi had its virtual meetup with author Mitch Albom to talk about his latest book, "The Little Liar." It's set in Greece during the Holocaust and intertwines the lives of three children. After thousands of votes, "The Little Liar" was selected as the CBS New York Book Club's "Readers' Choice."

CBS New York's Mary Calvi initially talked with Albom at Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust about his career. 

Albom's books have sold more than 40 million copies, but he said growing up in New Jersey he never aspired to becoming a writer. 

"I never wrote in my high school newspaper. I never wrote for my college newspaper. I was a musician through and through. It was only after the music stuff didn't work out, that I volunteered for a local newspaper," Albom said. 

That newspaper was the Queens Tribune. Albom became a well-known sports writer. 

"For the first 37 years of my life, I was mostly just about myself," Albom said. "And then I encountered an old professor of mine, Morrie Schwartz. He was dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. And really, the first visit I went was out of guilt. And he was so calm and so in control and content with how he had led his life. And I began to go back the next Tuesday, the next Tuesday, the next Tuesday. All the Tuesdays he had left in his life."

Albom says he wrote the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" to pay Schwartz's medical bills. But the now-beloved book was nearly never published. 

"We came to this city, New York, trying to find a publisher and we got turned away virtually everywhere," Albom said. 

Publishers told him that it was "boring, depressing. You're a sports writer. Nobody is going to want to read it." 

Albom said he found one publisher who bought the book, and gave Albom enough money to pay Schwartz's medical bills. "Tuesdays with Morrie" was published after Schwartz's death, and is now the most successful memoir ever published.

With "The Little Liar," Albom has another bestseller. He said he wanted to write a story about the Holocaust for years, but didn't want to do it like other books that start at the concentration camps and end when liberation comes. 

Albom said he came up with the idea of "a boy who never tells a lie, and the first lie that he tells is the worst lie he's ever going to tell." 

Albom said he wants readers to take away from the book the idea that truth is precious, and to think about what's the biggest lie they've ever told and what they would do to be forgiven that lie.

Albom said that every book he has written offers a life lesson he learned from Schwartz. In "The Little Liar," the lesson is foregiveness. 

"Schwartz pulled me aside one time and said, Mitch, if there is anybody you are fighting with or feuding with in your life that you care about, let it go. Say you're wrong if that will end it. Because when you get to where I am, and you will get to where I am, you won't care who was right or wrong. You'll just want to know that you are at peace with them," Albom said. 

Members of the CBS New York Book Club asked Albom questions about the book during the virtual broadcast. Readers wanted to know if he became as emotional writing the book as they did reading it. Albom said he has a litmus test. 

"If I don't choke up a little bit, or feel, like, a shiver or a tingle when I write something, it's not good enough," he said.

Albom spoke to Calvi from the basement office of his house. He writes every morning, including the weekends, when he's working on a book. 

"I don't listen to anything. I don't turn on anything. I don't read anything else. I work for two and a half to three hours and then that's it. I've learned that I could sit there for the rest of the day and nothing else is going to happen. That's about how much gas I have in my tank. And I always try to leave when things are going well," Albom said. 

Albom told Mary he's now working on his next book. 

"It's a magical tale where a guy gets to do everything twice in his life," Albom said. "He gets to do it once, and if he didn't like the way it worked out, he gets a second try at it. And he has to live with the consequences of the second time... And when he falls in love he has to make some tough choices."

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"The Little Liar " by Mitch Albom 


From the publisher:  Eleven-year-old Nico Krispis never told a lie. When the Nazi's invade his home in Salonika, Greece, the trustworthy boy is discovered by a German officer, who offers him a chance to save his family. All Nico has to do is convince his fellow Jewish residents to board trains heading to "new homes" where they are promised jobs and safety. Unaware that this is all a cruel ruse, the innocent boy goes to the station platform every day and reassures the passengers that the journey is safe. But when the final train is at the station, Nico sees his family being loaded into a large boxcar crowded with other neighbors. Only after it is too late does Nico discover that he helped send the people he loved—and all the others—to their doom at Auschwitz. 

Nico never tells the truth again.

Mitch Albom was born in Passaic, NJ and lived in Buffalo, NY until his family settled in Oaklyn, NJ.

"The Little Liar" by Mitch Albom (Hardcover) $19

"The Little Liar" by Mitch Albom (Kindle) $15

Excerpt: "The Little Liar" by Mitch Albom


"It's a lie."

The large man's voice was deep and hoarse. "What's a lie?" someone whispered. "Where we're going."

"They're taking us north." "They're taking us to die." 

"Not true!"

"It is true," the large man said. "They'll kill us once we get there."

"No! We're being resettled! To new homes! You heard the boy on the platform!"

"To new homes!" another voice added.

"There are no new homes," the large man said.

A shriek of train wheels silenced the conversation. The large man studied the metal grate that covered the only window in this lightless wagon, which was intended to carry cows, not humans. There were no seats. No food or water. Nearly a hundred others were crammed inside, a solid block of human beings. Old men in suits. Children in their sleeping clothes. A young mother cupping an infant to her chest. Only one person was sitting, a teenaged girl with her dress hiked up over a tin bucket the passengers were given to relieve themselves. She hid her face in her hands.

The large man had seen enough. He wiped sweat from his forehead then pushed through the bodies toward the window.


"Watch it!"

"Where are you going!"

He reached the grate and jammed his thick fingers through the holes. He grunted loudly. With his face contorting, he began to pull.

Everyone in the cattle car went silent. What is he doing? What if the guards come? In the corner, a lanky boy named Sebastian stood against the wall, watching all this unfold. Next to him was most of his family, his mother, his father, his grandparents, his two younger sisters. But when he saw the man pulling at the window grate, his focus turned to a thin dark-haired girl a few feet away.

Her name was Fannie. Before all the trouble began, before the tanks and the soldiers and the barking dogs and the midnight door-pounding and the rounding up of all the Jewish people in his home city of Salonika, Sebastian believed that he loved this girl, if there is such a thing as love when you are fourteen years old.

He had never shared this feeling, not with her or anyone else. But now, for some reason, he felt swollen with it, and he focused on her as the large man wiggled the grate until it loosened from the wall. With a last mighty pull, he ripped it free and let it drop. Air rushed through the open rectangle, and a springtime sky was visible for all to see.

The large man wasted no time. He pulled himself up, but the opening was too small. His thick midsection could not fit through.

He dropped down, cursing. A murmur went through the train car.

"Someone smaller," a voice said.

Parents clutched their children. For a moment, nobody moved. Sebastian squeezed his eyes shut, took a deep breath, then grabbed Fannie by the shoulders and pushed her forward.

"She can fit."

"Sebastian, no!" Fannie yelled.

"Where are her parents?" someone asked. 

"Dead," someone answered.

"Come, child." 

"Hurry, child!"

The passengers shuffled Fannie through the scrum of bodies, touching her back as if sealing wishes upon it. She reached the large man, who hoisted her to the window.

"Legs first," he instructed. "When you land, curl up and roll."


"We can't wait! You must go now!"

Fannie spun toward Sebastian. Tears filled his eyes. I will see you again, he said, but he said it to himself. A bearded man who had been mumbling prayers edged forward to whisper in Fannie's ear.

 "Be a good person," he said. "Tell the world what happened here."

Her mouth went to form a question, but before she could, the large man pushed her through the opening, and she was gone.

Wind whooshed through the window. For a moment, the passengers seemed paralyzed, as if waiting for Fannie to come crawling back. When that didn't happen, they began pushing forward. Ripples of hope spread through the boxcar. We can get out! We can leave! They crushed up against one another.

And then.

BANG! A gunshot. Then several more. As the train screeched its brakes, passengers scrambled to put the grate back over the window. No luck. It wouldn't hold. When the car stopped moving, the doors yanked open, and a short German officer stood in blinding sunlight, his pistol held high.

"HALT!" he screamed.

Sebastian watched the hands fall away from the window like dead leaves dropping from a shaken branch. He looked at the officer, looked at the passengers, looked at the teenage girl crying on the waste bucket, and he knew their last hope had just been extinguished. At that moment, he cursed the one missing member of his family, his younger brother, Nico, and he swore he would find him one day, make him pay for all this, and never, ever, forgive him.

Excerpted from The Little Liar by Mitch Albom. Copyright © 2023 by Mitch Albom. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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