Sunday Salon: The Holocaust and Fiction

On Thursday, during my class entitled “Rescue and Resistance During the Holocaust”, my professor instructed us (the students) to go around and the room and introduce ourselves as well as state exactly why we are taking the course. After introducing myself, I stated that I was taking this course because I enjoy reading fictional books about the Holocaust and many of them center on rescue — self-rescue or rescue by others. I wanted to take this particular course so I could learn the historical basis of these fictional accounts. (I touched upon this earlier here.) As soon as I finished, my professor interrupted our chain of introductions to interject:

“All those novels you’ve been reading? Complete bullshit.”

We continued off on a tangent about this topic and Suite Française did gain her recommendation as well. But after introductions were concluded, another student asked if her frustration with fictional novels were based of how much she knows about the topic. That might have something to do with it, she said, but most of it is because authors use the Holocaust as story crutch. That is, they decided to place their characters in the time of the Holocaust because it’s intrinsically interesting and gains people’s intention.

We will be reading a fictional novel for my class — Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone. When asked that particular addition to our required reading list, my professor said the book focused on Germans during the time period rather than the Jews and was written in 1947. So maybe there are some exceptions to my professor’s self-imposed ban on fictional novels about the Holocaust.

I am not one to shy away from reading fictional accounts of the Holocaust, but recently I’ve found that there are some books whose historical inaccuracy just cannot be overlooked. The Violin of Auschwitz, for example. So maybe I too will get to the point were I cannot stand to read fictional accounts of the Holocaust, whcih would be a shame because there are some fictional books that I just loved.

Books Mentioned:

  • Anglada, Maria Àngels. The Violin of Auschwitz. Translated from Catalan by Martha Tennet. New York, NY: Bantam, 2010. Originally published 1994. Print. 109 pgs. ISBN: 9780553807783. Source: Library.
  • Fallada, Hans. Every Man Dies Alone. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2010. Originally published 1947. Print. 544 pgs. ISBN: 9781935554042. Source: Purchased.
  • Némirovsky, Irène. Suite Française. New York, NY: Vintage, 2006. Print. 431 pgs. ISBN: 9781400096275. Source: Purchased.

The Sunday Salon:

The Sunday Salon.com The Sunday Salon encourages bloggers to get together –at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones– every Sunday and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Salon participants are encouraged to blog about their time spent reading, pages read, information about current reading, discuss a reaction to a book, state what they plan to read the following week, or make suggestions for a group read.

2 comments

  1. Interesting post. You could always just look at it as their being fictional, plain and simple, and not try to read too much into them. But that’s so hard given the importance of remembering the Holocaust and not wanting to trivialize it. You’ve given much much food for thought.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel | Ardent Reader

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