January 27, 2005


Old Hag

Mark, what a nice post. One thing -- I love the painted bird too, but I thought they determined that it was mostly fiction....? (As in, really actually not anywhere near a memoir, since Kosinski was not in fact a Holocaust survivor?) Did that debunking get debunked too?

Dave Lull

"Although The Painted Bird may not be directly about the Holocaust, although it may not be based on Kosinski's own experiences during the Holocaust, it is nevertheless an indispensable document of the Holocaust. It is perhaps the greatest example of what is coming to be known as a 'second- generation' book: a contemporary report of the hell in which a survivor of the Holocaust must live, one generation after the event."


A Life Beyond Repair
Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography. By James Park Sloan. Dutton. 505 pp. $27.95.
Reviewed by D. G. Myers



Mark, are you familiar with Jorge Semprun's 'Literature or Life'? A friend gave it to me years ago in Chicago and its been in my head ever since.


Thanks Dave & Lizzie - brainfarted there, was on autopilot.

Scott, don't know the Semprun but will check it out on your say-so.

Jimmy Beck

Lovely post. I'd add Martin Gilbert's big book.

Dan Green

What got debunked was Kozinski's claims to have experienced what the protagonist of his novel experiences. As a work of fiction, The Painted Bird still holds up.


My husband's grandparents never spoke of their pre-U.S. lives, except to mourn those they lost (in Austria and France). We travelled to Vienna last spring and were able to work some historiography voodoo and piece together some of their story. I very much look forward to reading The Number, and the novel.

Dave Worsley

Excellent work. Does anyone have any idea if Martha (Archivist) Cooley is coming along on another work of fiction? What a standout book! Again, nicely done, Mark


Lovely post, Mark. And what a great list, too.


Thanks for sharing those images, Jessica. And I appreciate the kind words, Laila.

Dave, Martha Cooley's new book, Thirty Three Swoons comes out in May. I have a galley on my desk as we speak, and it's next up after Ian McEwan. I'll also be doing a Q&A with her.

Jenny D

Yes, thanks for the list.

A wonderful book that everyone should read is David Weiss Halivni's "The Book and the Sword: A Life of Learning in the Shadow of Destruction."


Great weblog... great list of books... it was nice to see mention of Jorge Semprun in a post.

For those of you who are not familiar with the work of Jorge Semprun, I cannot praise his work highly enough. He is one of Europe's truly great intellectuals, and it is a shame that so little of his work is available in English. Aside from two books written in Spanish, the rest have been written in French. Google him and you will begin to get a sense of who he is. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald, where he was a Communist prisoner from the age of 20 to 22, he and Elie Weisel did a broadcast together for French radio which was then reprinted as a monograph: Se Taire Est Impossible. He has written fiction and non-ficiton, and may be best known to English-speakers as the scriptwriter of Alain Renais' La Guerre est Finie,Costa Gavras' Z as well as the films State of Siege and Stavisky. The supremely ironic moment of his life must have been when he, an exile from Franco's Spain, was phoned by Felipe Gonzales, the first democratically elected Socialist Prime Minister of Spain in 1988 who asked Semprun, to become his Minister of Culure, which he did. It's all in the books - and much, much more.


A very touching post. I too am a child of survivors -- but not of Auschwitz. The literary references are very interesting and I plan to follow up on several of them.

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