Over the past 18 months or so, many of the new novels received at the Lilith office have centered on the Holocaust; several, like The Tattooist of Auschwitz, marketed as potential bestsellers. This flood of fiction from women is unlike memoirs written by survivors themselves or conveyed via their daughters’ retellings. Now, a third generation, clearly affected by Holocaust experiences either in their own families or from other exposure, has moved those experiences from memoir into fiction. In the 1970s, Elie Wiesel—himself a writer of Holocaust fiction––famously argued that writers should foreswear fictionalizing the events of the Shoah. Critic Ruth Franklin takes a gentler stance in A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, a study of immense depth and range that offers a lucid view of an often cloudy field (Goodreads).
Here, a partial list of recent novels in this challenging category.
The Takeaway Men
by Meryl Ain [SparkPress, $16.95]
“The author’s tale is sensitively composed, a thoughtful exploration into the perennially thorny issues of religious identity, assimilation, and the legacy of suffering.” —Kirkus Reviews
The World that We Knew
by Alice Hoffman [Simon & Schuster, $17.00]
“Set in Nazi-occupied France between 1941 and 1944, Hoffman’s latest (after The Rules of Magic) is a bittersweet parable about the costs of survival and the behaviors that define humanity.” —Publishers Weekly
The Things We Cannot Say
by Kelly Rimmer [Graydon House Books, $28.99]
Truth and lies in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1942 drive this tale from bestselling author Rimmer. The novel is about a Polish Christian family in the U.S. whose family secrets, unearthed in present-day America and Poland, upend the narrative that generations had come to understand as their own. (Goodreads)
They Went Left
by Monica Hesse [Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $9.99]
“Hesse writes with tenderness and insight about the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive and the ways we cobble together family with whatever we have. When the plot twists come, they are gut punches–some devastating, others offering hope….” —New York Times Book Review
The Star and the Shamrock
by Jean Grainger [Kindle Direct Publishing, $15.99]
The story of two Jewish children fleeing Berlin during the Holocaust, a newly widowed and motherless woman in Ireland, and their unlikely connection.
The Brothers of Auschwitz
by Malka Adler [HarperCollins, $16.99]
Alternating viewpoints between two brothers separated from their families and taken to Auschwitz, this harrowing story describes how they found one another again.
The German Midwife
by Mandy Robotham [HarperCollins, $15.99]
Anke Hoff, a midwife imprisoned in concentration camp, is tasked with delivering the baby of the Führer. The impossible decision: whether to deliver the innocent child, or sacrifice it for a greater good?
by Heather Morris [Macmillan, $27.99]
“In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Morris’s propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag.” —Publishers Weekly
The Light After the War
by Anita Abriel [Atria Books, $27.00]
“[Abriel] deftly sketches the postwar world from Naples to Venezuela and Australia,
with attention paid to the changed architectural and emotional landscapes. The rubble of bombed cities, the blank map of lost relatives, and the uncertainty of day-to-day survival outline the anguish of the lost generation.” —Kirkus Reviews
House on Endless Waters
by Emuna Elon [Atria Books, $17.00]
“A story of love, loss, and yearning. Lyrically phrased and often powerfully visual…this deeply felt tale offers a rewarding meditation on survival.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
by Diane Armstrong [HarperCollins, $16.99]
Past and present come together in this tale of a woman trying to discover the truth
about her grandmother’s rescue from the death camps in 1944 and a Jewish journalist
who attempts to save her and thousands of others.
The Last Train to London
by Meg Waite Clayton [HarperCollins, $27.99]
This is a standout historical fiction that serves as a chilling reminder of how insidious, pervasive evil can gradually seep into everyday lives.” —Publishers Weekly
The Things We Cherished
by Pam Jenoff [Random House, $17.00]
“A skillfully rendered tale of undying love, unthinkable loss and the relentless grip of the past on the present” —Kirkus Reviews