Page 84 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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Schwarz-Bart published his second book. I t does not deal with
Jews, but Negroes, another oppressed group. He has retained
many of the old themes, but given them a new setting.
There was also a hubbub about Anna Langfus’
Les Baggages
de Sable
(in English translation:
The Lost Shore).
I t followed
a moderately successful autobiographical novel,
Salt and Brim-
stone,
dealing with her war time suffering, her incarcerations
and escapes in Nazi occupied Poland.
The Lost Shore,
inferior
to the first novel, was a cross of Frangoise Sagan and the haunting
memories of the Holocaust, a daringly different mixture. Basic-
ally a slight novel, it relates the story of a lonely girl in Paris
who lives with the ghosts of her family, all of whom perished
in the ovens of Auschwitz. Interweaving an affair with a kind,
elderly gentleman and involving her with children all possessing
the innocence denied her, it is not without its moments of
power and beauty. But despite its classic simplicity, the novel
lacked depth and scope; it cast just another grey shadow over
the policies governing French literary prizes. Critics avenged
themselves on what some thought a dubious award by largely
ignoring Mrs. Langfus’ final novel,
Saute, Barbara
(Jump, Bar-
bara!).
The silence which surrounded the reception of
Saute, Barbara
must have been a keen disappointment to Mrs. Langfus, who
died suddenly last summer of a heart attack. This last novel bore
at least a superficial resemblance to
The Lost Shore.
Here a grown
man is obsessed with the memory of his lost famly. Wandering
the streets of Berlin in 1945 he discovers a young German girl,
who reminds him painfully of his own lost daughter. In a mo-
ment of madness he abducts this Aryan offspring whom he hates
as a German and loves as a reflection of his murdered child.
Talented French Writers
Three other writers have written novels which have won less
coveted prizes but have demonstrated talent not shown by all
Goncourt winners. In addition to talent, they share certain bio-
graphical similarities: none is a native Frenchmen; French was
once a foreign language for all of them (including Mrs. Langfus);
none has been able to shed the burden of the past. Among the
three is Elie Wiesel, born in Hungary, then briefly but indelibly
of Auschwitz, of Paris and Israel, and for the past ten years
of New York. But to this day Wiesel’s work linguistically, struc-
turally and intellectually shows a deeper affinity with the French
novel than any other. The second is Piotr Rawicz, originally of
Poland and now of Paris, whose sole novel,
Blood from the Sky,
has been one of the most daringly different on the Holocaust.
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J e w i s h B o o k A n n u a l