Monday, January 18, 2010
The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-six
Keats' engaging book opens with a fictional scholar's quest to understand the meaning behind a list of names found during the excavation of a German synagogue. After interviewing local villagers, Jay Katz, Ph.D discovers that the names are based on the "Lamedh-Vov," a group of 36 virtuous people who justify human existence before God. What follows is a finely crafted series of stories featuring 12 of these prominent characters including a liar, a thief and an idiot. In The Book of the Unknown, Keats pays homage to the rich tradition of Jewish folklore while deftly exploring issues of morality and the mysteries of human nature.
Clara's War: One Girl's Story of Survival
Kramer was a teenager when the Nazis invaded the Polish town of Zolkiew in World War II. Her moving testimony of survival is based on journals she kept during the 18-month period when she and 17 other Polish Jews secretly hid in a shallow dirt bunker underneath a neighboring couple's home. Kramer's memoir grippingly details the families' miserable daily living conditions, individual and collective fears, as well as, dangerous, close encounters with death. Clara's War, illustrating the harsh truths of survival, is profound and utterly compelling.
Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy
"I grew up in camps--I knew no other life--my sole objective was to stay alive, from hour to hour, from day to day." In Lucky Child, the Czechoslovakia-born Buergenthal shares the compelling story of his survival in World War II, revisiting the difficult memories of his early youth spent in a Jewish ghetto, the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, children's barracks and an orphanage. Throughout the narrative, Buergenthal's voice is intimate, understated and direct. He asks such potent questions as: "What is it in the human character that gives some individuals the moral strength not to sacrifice their decency and dignity, regardless of the costs to themselves, whereas others become murderously ruthless in the hopes of ensuring their own survival?" Lucky Child is a riveting, poignant and remarkable memoir deserving wide readership.