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Mischling

by Affinity Konar

The newsreel images of the liberation of Auschwitz are filed away in the mind under #neveragain. The experience of twins Pearl and Stasha at the hands of Mengele becomes unbearably real as they live through the evil inhumanity, making children's bargains with fate and dealing with the guilt of survival. I guess a Holocaust novel gets its integrity from being so closely based on remembered facts as this is.

Extract

'Do you want to be kaputt?' Peter demanded.
I wasn't about to address the center of my concerns: I could never be kaputt. Through the eye of his needle, Uncle had prevented this. Never would I die. On his icy table, I'd thought I was doing what I needed to do to ensure the survival of Pearl and me. But Pearl was gone. I did not know if she was dead or not-dead, but I knew that he had never given her that needle, and I knew, too, that she would be ashamed of what I had done. Because after all this time in the barrel, I'd begun to suspect a few things. I suspected that my endurance was made possible by the deaths of others. My blood was thick with the thwarted survival of masses; it carried the words they'd never say, the loves they'd never know, the poems they'd never make. It bore the colors of the paintings they'd never paint, the laughs of the children they'd never bear. This blood made living so hard that sometimes I wondered if it was good that Pearl was spared deathlessness.

Parallels

Time's Arrow by Martin Amis
The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman
 

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