The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
.The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is based on Lale Ludwig Eisenberg’s life story after being transported to Auschwitz on April 13, 1942. Auschwitz, the largest death camp operated by the Nazis during World War II. Over 1 million innocent men, women and children were put to death.
This powerful book was written by Heather Morris of New Zealand after meeting with Lale Sokolov, while she worked in a public hospital in Melbourne. Lale was finally ready to tell his story before he died and reunited with this beloved Gita who died three years before.
People sent to Auschwitz were first divided into two groups: the people in the first group were deemed to weak, too young (most children), or too sick to work. They were immediately sent to the showers, which were actually gas chambers made to look like shower rooms.
The second group were made up of those deemed strong enough to work. Those were the prisoners who got numbers tattooed on their arms. The numbers were meant to dehumanize the prisoners- they would no longer be known by their names, simply their numbers. If you were in this group, you had some chance of survival. A number didn't mean you would survive, but you might.
Numbers were given to only one group of prisoners- those who were deemed healthy and strong enough to work. Lale, as many Jews and people brought to concentration camps were put to work. He was assigned to work as the tattooist. His job was to permanently tattooed the identification numbers on the newly arrived prisoners deemed able to work to Auschwitz and Birkenau. He meets Gita when he must re-tattoo her arm. He falls in love with her and vows they will survive and one day walk out of here and marry.
This book is an important reminder for the world to remember those who were murdered, tortured and dehumanized and bore witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust and the strength of love and the power of resilience to overcome and survive.
January 27, 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz/Birkenau. In the words of a survivor:
"It is important for everyone to remember what happened at Auschwitz-Birkenau because the number of survivors who can give their testimonies is dwindling, and such evil must never happen again," he added.
Mike Bornstein from Żarki was deported to Auschwitz in July 1944. He was in the camp until the day of liberation on January 27, 1945. "I spent most of my life trying to forget Auschwitz and all the reasons I have a tattoo on my arm. I like to focus on happier things -- I am blessed with a wonderful life now. But I was one of the youngest survivors, and that makes me one of the last survivors here now. I feel an obligation to be at the 75th anniversary, to stand up and say, 'I was there. I survived. We can't forget what happened at Auschwitz.' I also want to send a message. I think it's important to show the strength of the Jewish people and the power of optimism. I'll be standing in Auschwitz with one of my twelve grandkids. My life is good," he said.
The Innocents by Michael Crummey
Michael Crummey is an award-winning poet and writer from St. John’s Newfoundland. His novel, The innocents was inspired by ancient mariners, shipwrecks and the rugged coast of Newfoundland. In his research, he came across a 18th century traveling clergyman who discovered a brother and his pregnant 15-year-old sister living alone in an isolated location in Newfoundland. The children’s parents had died leaving them to survive on their own.
This book is deep, dark. and gritty. I immersed myself in this harrowing tale of Ada and Evered struggle to survive after the death of their parents.
"Their father died in his bed before the new year.
Without speaking of it they acted as if he was only asleep and they left him lying there for the better part of a week. Hoping he might wake up coughing in the middle of the night, complaining about the cold or asking after a drink of water. During the day they dawdled about in the store and spent as much time outside as they could stand, cleaving and stacking wood or hauling buckets of water from the brook, picking along the landwash for gull feathers and mussel shells and wish rocks to add to Ada's collection. Inside they tended the fireplace and drank their bare-legged tea and spoke in whispers so as not to disturb the man.
On the fifth night of the vigil Ada woke from a dream of her parents. They were standing back on, holding hands and looking at her over their shoulders. Her mother was naked and soaking wet, her hair streaming water.
"What is it you're bawling over, Sister?" Evered asked. "He can't stay," she whispered."
Read more about the book in an interview with Michael Crummey and the Global and Mail. Michael Crummey returns with The Innocents exploring complex physical elements of adolescence
PUBLISHED AUGUST 30, 2019
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
I totally enjoyed reading The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo. This book is overflowing with mystical Asian phenomena, Weretigers, Chinese number superstitions, missing fingers, twins and more. The novel is set in 1930’s in Malaysia during Colonial rule. The first pages captured my imagination.
“The old man opens his watery blue eyes, those colonial foreign eyes that had frightened Ren so much in the beginning, and whispers something.
The boy bends his cropped head closer.
“Say it.” The hoarse rasp is fading.
“When you are dead, I will find your missing finger.” Ren replies in a clear, small voice.
He hesitates. “And bury it in your grave.”
“Good.” The old man draws a ratline breath. “You must get it back before the forty-nine days of my soul are over.”
I was hooked. Forty-Four is an unlucky number for Chinese because it sounds like “die, definitely die.” Someone is stealing fingers from the pathology specimen room. A headless torso turns up in a garden and the 5 Virtues kept me turning pages.There is also a romantic thread throughout the story.
Learn more about the book and the author in NPR interview with the author, “In 'The Night Tiger,' Fantastic Beasts Of Colonial Malaysia."
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