Avrom Bendavid-Val lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Leah, who is also an author. He worked as a consultant in economic development and environmental management in America and in poorer countries for 45 years. During his career he traveled and worked in Africa, Asia, East and Central Europe, and the Middle East, and published several books in his field.

In 1997, while working in Poland, he decided to visit the town his father and grandfather came from, Trochenbrod, in what is today northwestern Ukraine. He discovered that there were no physical remnants of Trochenbrod, and that it had been a unique settlement in many ways.

He became an impassioned researcher into Trochenbrod's history, traveling to several countries to interview the few surviving people born in Trochenbrod as well as Ukrainians and Poles who had visited it as children, returning to the site of the town and the region around it nine times. He collected private memoirs from families descended from Trochenbrod, studied any published references to the town he could find, compiled a set of old maps of the Trochenbrod area from many different years and countries, and examined archival and journalistic records in Ukraine and Poland. He documented the history of the town from its creation in the early 1800s to its destruction in 1942, and became the leading authority on Trochenbrod’s story.

His book about the town and its people, The Heavens Are Empty: Discovering the Lost Town of Trochenbrod, was released by Pegasus Books in October 2010. The book is unique in the variety of first person accounts Bendavid-Val draws on, including those of Jews born in Trochenbrod as well as Ukrainians and Polish people who knew the town as children. His book is also unique in the large number of photographs and maps it contains. The Heavens Are Empty not only reveals the final days of this hidden town as witnessed by different people, but lets the reader experience the life and vibrancy that was Trochenbrod, and that was lost when Trochenbrod was lost.

Avrom’s literary agent is Jonah Straus, of Straus Literary: http://www.strausliterary.com.

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