Fiction — print. Translated from the Catalan by Martha Tennet. Bantam, 2010. Originally published 1994. 109 pgs. Library copy.
In the winter of 1991, at a concert in Krakow, an older woman with a marvelously pitched violin meets a fellow musician who is instantly captivated by her instrument. The story then switches from diary format to a narrative tale about a man named Daniel, a Jewish violin maker imprisoned in Auschwitz, and how the violin in question comes into being.
The writing is clear, concise, and simple, but I did not enjoy the tale nearly as much as I thought I would. I don’t know if something was lost in translation from Catalan to English because the emotion behind this little book was lost on me. I found the transition from diary format to narration jarring; so much so that it made me lose focus on the tale.
The whole novel is like a rough-sketch. Daniel’s love of violins are what propels him to keep living despite the deplorable conditions, and this is the center of both his character and the story. But that’s it. There’s no other aspects to the characters and they all felt very flat to me.
And knowing what I know about the Holocaust, the whole thing felt poorly researched. Like the author wanted to write about someone’s love for music under the most terrible conditions and therefore picked the Holocaust.
Note: This book was also published in English under the title of ‘The Auschwitz Violin’.