Friday, February 11, 2011

Holocaust Literature

Last month, I attended a one-day workshop at my university on Holocaust literature and translation. I gave a talk on how the Holocaust is portrayed in books for children and what challenges might lie in translating those books (the challenges, incidentally, are manifold – linguistic, cultural, historical, and ethical – but I won’t go into that in more depth here now).

Someone then sent me a list of the top books about the Holocaust. I’m not sure I agree with the list (I really didn’t like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, for example), but it is an interesting starting point. What do others think of this list? Which books on the Holocaust would you recommend?


Anonymous said...

Off the top of my head, I'd say The Last of the Just by Andre Schwarz-Bart, Adam Resurrected by Yoram Kaniuk (I've just seen the movie after reading the book a few years back) and See Under Love by David Grossman.

{sylvaf} said...

I liked Fatelessness by Imre Kertesz and loved Maus by Art Spiegelman, but I hated The Pianist (both the book and the movie}. It's not a bad list although it clearly contains only books that have been translated into English and there are so many more.

Korean Translator said...

I would not relay on the list much. "The painted bird" by Kosinski is a fiction novel. If you are looking for the right literature go to Auschwitz museum bookshop. You will find many memoirs written by the prisoners as well as educational resources. You can also contact the stuff and ask for recommendations, people working there are very friendly. I got to know them while I volunteered at the museum.

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks for your suggestions!
Yes, memoirs can be excellent sources. But literature also serves a purpose, I think.
Best wishes,

Alba Masia said...

I want to suggest you "Se questo รจ un uomo" (If this is a man) by the italian writer Primo Levi. His words are so real!

Alba Masia said...

OPs I'm sorry If this is a man is already on the list!But I'd like to read with you some words:
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
Primo Levi