Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Remembrance

Yesterday a coworker set a New York Times Magazine article on my desk about the famed photographer Roman Vishniac and the impact he made with his camera in documenting the ‘vanishing world’ of Eastern European Jewish shtetls. The article in itself was fascinating—uncovering new evidence about where and how Vishniac took his photos, but where the article took me is what I want to talk about here. After reading about Vishniac’s photography, I went to the website for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and I found out that this week is Holocaust Remembrance week.

If there is one thing that I am sure Literature is good for, it is to immortalize moments of time through characters, plots and scenes we connect to. What better way to honor Holocaust Remembrance week than to share some of my favorite books that deal with this tragic moment in history?

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon may be more about the birth of comic books in the continuously modernizing United States, but at its core it is a Holocaust survivor novel. It is a novel about escape and rebirth. Remembering, forgetting, the American Dream, Immigration and American Judaism after WWII.

Any book by Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor himself, brings the haunting imagery of concentration camps alive. My favorite would have to be Night, which is also perhaps his most famous.

The moral dilemmas that unravel in Sophie’s Choice by William Styron give a female perspective to the Holocaust. Where is the line of right and wrong amidst such terror and dehumanization?

Finally, I would like to recommend W. G. Sebald’s The Emigrants, a portrait of four Jewish emigrants who live through exile, persecution and dislocation, all haunted by the impact of the Holocaust.

There are so many more Holocaust novels out there—are there particular ones that have touched you?

--Anna in Events

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:28 PM

    I was first introduced to the Holocaust in children's fiction, and I think the good ones built a foundation of knowledge that I still refer to as an adult. The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen is a fantastic book for 10-12 year olds, and gives a perspective from inside the camps. Number the Stars is a lot of kids' first introduction to the Holocaust. And the recent young adult novel The Book Thief is a beautiful story about regular poor folks in Germany trying to navigate the newly dangerous world around them.
    -other Anna, kids' dept.


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