24 February 2010

Soazig Aaron, Refusal, 2002

Sometimes it seems that any new fiction centred on Auschwitz is required to offer up new horrors previously untouched upon and Soazig Aaron has certainly attempted to go down that route too, somewhat in the tracks of William Styron’s Sophie’s Choice. In this case I’m not sure it was necessary, but as the point of Refusal is to focus on some of the after-effects of the horror, perhaps you can’t really do that without the inclusion of a few graphic scenes as flashbacks. In Refusal much of the evil of Auschwitz happened to Klara Schwarz-Roth, a German-born Parisian Jew, separated from her daughter and sent there where she was forced to learn many of the darker aspects of survival, which also prevent her from properly rejoining the world upon her release. Klara is a fascinating and eloquent character, if also deeply scarred and deeply scary. Even though the story is told through the eyes of her pre-war friend Angélika, Klara takes centre stage throughout. This is one of those books that won’t let go and is, even with Klara’s self-imposed and self-limiting options for her future, defiantly difficult to argue with.  PY


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