Tag Archives: holocaust novel

Review: Kaddish for an Unborn Child

Kaddish for an Unborn Child, by Imre Kertesz, was a difficult book, in the sense that the narrator was rambling, repetitiously, due to his stream of consciousness.

The novel opens with the word ‘No!’  It is an answer to a question asked him, the question being did he have a child.   He also answered his wife the same way, when she wanted a child.  From there the reader is led through the narrator’s bleak, dark and depressed outlook on life and living.

The narrator is a writer.  Within the ramblings the sentences run into each other, as his thoughts unfold on the pages.  He tries to illuminate all of his thoughts and feelings, often repeating what he has just stated.  This is due to the workings of his mind, and the fact he has an urgency to get it all out in the open.  This urgency is what keeps him alive, literally.  He has much to criticize regarding his life, including his childhood.

The narrator compares his abusive and restricted childhood to his existence in Auschwitz.  Rules and the oppressive environment almost seem normal to him, coming from his controlled adolescent upbringing.  Once liberated his perceptions regarding daily life continue in the same vein.  He encloses himself within the walls of isolation.

His routine continues to be a somewhat confined existence, as he transcends from being a Holocaust camp prisoner, to living for years sheltered from life in a rented room.  He compares his living arrangement to that of the camps, in the sense that he has been restricted and limited in space, and therefore in daily life.

Of course, much of his limitations have been self-induced repercussions and extensions of the Holocaust.  Once he marries, he ponders the issues of an apartment with his wife, and how he has never thought of spaciousness, furniture, this or that.  The rented room was self-contained, with all of the essentials provided.  His pen was his life’s companion.  He had need for nothing else.

I won’t delve into the story line any further.  It was enough to get through the novel in its entirety.  It was an emotionally, laborious read in many aspects, reinforcing the Holocaust and its mental and emotional effects and affects on those who survive, those who are generational survivors, and on those who are victims of a survivor’s bleak and dark mindset.  In this case, his wife was a victim of the narrator’s mindset and his demons.

Within the darkness, I found Kaddish for an Unborn Child to be an excellent resource on the philosophical and psychological aspects of humanity’s, Holocaust nightmare.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels, Uncategorized

Jewaicious Review – The Welsh Girl

the welsh girl The Welsh Girl, by Peter Ho Davies is an exceptional novel that takes place during World War II. It is both poignant and a love story, yet it has its mystery and intrigue, also.

The setting takes place in a village in the mountains of Wales, where Esther Evans and her farmer father live. The story explores the relationship between land and sheep, shepherd, farmer and sheep, and the intuitive and innate qualities of man and animal, not only to each other, but to the environment.

Esther falls in love with a young German Corporal by the name of Karsten Simmering. Think about the definition of the word “simmering“, because the meaning of his surname is a vital part of his character. I won’t say more, as I will end up divulging too much.

One thing I like about The Welsh Girl is Davies‘ use of analogy and symbolism. Starting with the word “Welsh”, which is in the title, it doesn’t only describe or suggest a location, language or the country of Wales. The word also means “to cheat someone or not pay a debt“, and it can mean “to renege or to break one’s word“. Language is an important aspect within the book.

The novel leads one to ponder many things. What is one’s word, promise or oath? During war people say and do things that they might not ordinarily do. War breeds love and loss, and breeds so many other things within its circumstances and environments. From sheep farming, Rudolph Hess, a German Jew, Welsh pubs, a German POW camp, a German Corporal, and so much more, The “Welsh Girl” pulls it all within its pages.

Davies handles all of this in a well-articulated novel of war and love, loss, redemption and identity. He brings factual elements of history into The Welsh Girl, and brings a sensitivity to the characters, whether they deserve it or not. His brilliance in sweeping out the good and evil within people is insightful.

Davies brings us a sweeping saga of love, loss and redemption under the harsh events of World War II. Bravo to Peter Ho Davies for an excellent story that is filled with detailed word imagery filling all of our senses!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Novels