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Druggist of Auschwitz

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Druggist of Auschwitz Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Yet simply to dismiss the possibility of a 'second Holocaust,' to say confidently that it can't happen here, is to court inner doubts and reproaches. What could be more shameful than to follow in the footsteps of those German Jews we read about so often, with their super-patriotism and super-assimilation — attempts at camouflage that were doubly disgraceful for being so totally ineffective? This dialectic of fear and guilt and suspicion makes it very difficult to see the Holocaust objectively — which is one reason, perhaps, why many Jewish scholars have devoted their careers to doing exactly that." Adam Kirsch, The New Republic (Read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Dieter Schlesak's haunting novel The Druggist of Auschwitz — beautifully translated from the German by John Hargraves — is a frighteningly vivid portrayal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of criminal and victim alike.

Adam, known as "the last Jew of Schasburg," recounts with disturbing clarity his imprisonment at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Through Adam's fictional narrative and excerpts of actual testimony from the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial of 1963-65, we come to learn of the true-life story of Dr. Victor Capesius, who, despite strong friendships with Jews before the war, quickly aided in and profited from their tragedy once the Nazis came to power. Interspersed with historical research and the author's face-to-face interviews with survivors, the novel follows Capesius from his assignment as the "sorter" of new arrivals at Auschwitz — deciding who will go directly to the gas chamber and who will be used for labor — through his life of lavish wealth after the war to his arrest and eventual trial.

Schlesak's seamless incorporation of factual data and testimony — woven into Adam's dreamlike remembrance of a world turned upside down — makes The Druggist of Auschwitz a vital and unique addition to our understanding of the Holocaust.

Review:

"Schlesak, in his first book in English translation, is interested in documentation, here achieved through a collage of facts and firsthand narratives of the Holocaust by victims and perpetrators alike. Centering the narrative around the 1964 Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt of Victor Capesius, the director of the Auschwitz medical dispensary, who methodically enriched himself with assets stolen from those arriving on the Hungarian transports, Schlesak contrasts the suffering of the camp survivors with the apparently conscience-free lives of those who were 'obeying orders.' He interviews Roland Albert, an Auschwitz guard and his mother's favorite cousin, who Schlesak knew as a young boy in Germany, and who seems to feel no real sense of responsibility for the Holocaust. To understand the survivors, Schlesak, as author-narrator, talks with Adam Salmen, the so-called 'last Jew of Schässburg,' whose camp diary is excerpted to heartrending effect as are his struggles with survivor guilt: 'And even if you have gotten out, you never really escape...' The way testimony is collected and presented, without real narrative intervention, lends immediacy and veracity, but also feels less novelistic. Schlesak's work is relentless, sometimes too painful to read, testament to the fact that, in describing Auschwitz, no literary consolation is possible. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Review:

"A great book that hits you like a fist...An unforgettable tapestry of Evil." Claudio Magris, Corriere della Sera

Review:

"Like the novels of W.G. Sebald...[The Druggist of Auschwitz] will fill you with despair and rage and terrible shame at the infinite ingenuity of human cruelty. By steeling himself not to flinch before the hideous reality of the Holocaust, Schlesak has created a beautiful book." The Seattle Times

Review:

"That Dieter Schlesak could write this novel in what Adam calls the executioner's language serves as some small triumph. That he could look at all of this with a clear eye and help the reader to do the same is a major triumph." Alan Cheuse, NPR

Review:

"Dieter Schlesak not only has created a shattering work of great literary power and authenticity...but also sheds light on the relationship between perpetrators and their victims." Claus Stephani, David: Jüdische Kulturzeitschrift (Austria)

Synopsis:

Dieter Schlesaks haunting novel The Druggist of Auschwitz—beautifully translated from the German by John Hargraves—is a frighteningly vivid portrayal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of criminal and victim alike.

Adam, known as “the last Jew of Schäßburg,” recounts with disturbing clarity his imprisonment at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Through Adams fictional narrative and excerpts of actual testimony from the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial of 1963-65, we come to learn of the true-life story of Dr. Victor Capesius, who, despite strong friendships with Jews before the war, quickly aided in and profited from their tragedy once the Nazis came to power. Interspersed with historical research and the authors face-to-face interviews with survivors, the novel follows Capesius from his assignment as the “sorter” of new arrivals at Auschwitz—deciding who will go directly to the gas chamber and who will be used for labor—through his life of lavish wealth after the war to his arrest and eventual trial.

Schlesaks seamless incorporation of factual data and testimony—woven into Adams dreamlike remembrance of a world turned upside down—makes The Druggist of Auschwitz a vital and unique addition to our understanding of the Holocaust.

Synopsis:

The Druggist of Auschwitz is a frighteningly vivid portrayal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of criminal and victim alike. Adam, "the last Jew of Schäßburg," recounts with disturbing clarity his imprisonment at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Through his fictional narrative and excerpts of actual testimony at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial of 1963--1965, we come to learn the true-life story of Dr. Victor Capesius, who, despite strong friendships with Jews, was quick to profit from their tragedy once the Nazis came to power. Interspersed with historical research and interviews with actual survivors, The Druggist of Auschwitz is a vital and unique addition to our understanding of the Holocaust.

About the Author

Dieter Schlesak is a German-Romanian poet, novelist, and essayist. He is a member of the German PEN Center and the PEN Centre of German-Speaking Writers Abroad, and has received scholarships and awards from numerous organizations, including the Schiller Foundation and the University of Bucharest. Schlesak was born in Transylvania in 1934 and has lived in Italy and Germany since 1973.

John Hargraves has taught German literature at Yale University and Connecticut College. He is the author of Music in the Works of Broch, Mann, and Kafka and has translated works by Hermann Broch and Elias Canetti, among others. His translation of Michael Kruger's novel The Executor was awarded the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize. Hargraves lives in Manhattan and Connecticut.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374144067
Subtitle:
A Documentary Novel
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Translator:
Hargraves, John
Author:
Schlesak, Dieter
Author:
Hargraves, John
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Jewish
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110426
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 Black-and-White Illustrations and Wor
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Jewish

Druggist of Auschwitz
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 384 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374144067 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Schlesak, in his first book in English translation, is interested in documentation, here achieved through a collage of facts and firsthand narratives of the Holocaust by victims and perpetrators alike. Centering the narrative around the 1964 Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt of Victor Capesius, the director of the Auschwitz medical dispensary, who methodically enriched himself with assets stolen from those arriving on the Hungarian transports, Schlesak contrasts the suffering of the camp survivors with the apparently conscience-free lives of those who were 'obeying orders.' He interviews Roland Albert, an Auschwitz guard and his mother's favorite cousin, who Schlesak knew as a young boy in Germany, and who seems to feel no real sense of responsibility for the Holocaust. To understand the survivors, Schlesak, as author-narrator, talks with Adam Salmen, the so-called 'last Jew of Schässburg,' whose camp diary is excerpted to heartrending effect as are his struggles with survivor guilt: 'And even if you have gotten out, you never really escape...' The way testimony is collected and presented, without real narrative intervention, lends immediacy and veracity, but also feels less novelistic. Schlesak's work is relentless, sometimes too painful to read, testament to the fact that, in describing Auschwitz, no literary consolation is possible. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Review A Day" by , "Yet simply to dismiss the possibility of a 'second Holocaust,' to say confidently that it can't happen here, is to court inner doubts and reproaches. What could be more shameful than to follow in the footsteps of those German Jews we read about so often, with their super-patriotism and super-assimilation — attempts at camouflage that were doubly disgraceful for being so totally ineffective? This dialectic of fear and guilt and suspicion makes it very difficult to see the Holocaust objectively — which is one reason, perhaps, why many Jewish scholars have devoted their careers to doing exactly that." (Read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "A great book that hits you like a fist...An unforgettable tapestry of Evil."
"Review" by , "Like the novels of W.G. Sebald...[The Druggist of Auschwitz] will fill you with despair and rage and terrible shame at the infinite ingenuity of human cruelty. By steeling himself not to flinch before the hideous reality of the Holocaust, Schlesak has created a beautiful book."
"Review" by , "That Dieter Schlesak could write this novel in what Adam calls the executioner's language serves as some small triumph. That he could look at all of this with a clear eye and help the reader to do the same is a major triumph."
"Review" by , "Dieter Schlesak not only has created a shattering work of great literary power and authenticity...but also sheds light on the relationship between perpetrators and their victims."
"Synopsis" by ,

Dieter Schlesaks haunting novel The Druggist of Auschwitz—beautifully translated from the German by John Hargraves—is a frighteningly vivid portrayal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of criminal and victim alike.

Adam, known as “the last Jew of Schäßburg,” recounts with disturbing clarity his imprisonment at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Through Adams fictional narrative and excerpts of actual testimony from the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial of 1963-65, we come to learn of the true-life story of Dr. Victor Capesius, who, despite strong friendships with Jews before the war, quickly aided in and profited from their tragedy once the Nazis came to power. Interspersed with historical research and the authors face-to-face interviews with survivors, the novel follows Capesius from his assignment as the “sorter” of new arrivals at Auschwitz—deciding who will go directly to the gas chamber and who will be used for labor—through his life of lavish wealth after the war to his arrest and eventual trial.

Schlesaks seamless incorporation of factual data and testimony—woven into Adams dreamlike remembrance of a world turned upside down—makes The Druggist of Auschwitz a vital and unique addition to our understanding of the Holocaust.

"Synopsis" by ,
The Druggist of Auschwitz is a frighteningly vivid portrayal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of criminal and victim alike. Adam, "the last Jew of Schäßburg," recounts with disturbing clarity his imprisonment at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. Through his fictional narrative and excerpts of actual testimony at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial of 1963--1965, we come to learn the true-life story of Dr. Victor Capesius, who, despite strong friendships with Jews, was quick to profit from their tragedy once the Nazis came to power. Interspersed with historical research and interviews with actual survivors, The Druggist of Auschwitz is a vital and unique addition to our understanding of the Holocaust.

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