Category: Holocaust

Daša Drndić: Doppelgänger

The latest addition to my website is Daša Drndić‘s Doppelgänger. This book actually has two novellas: Doppelgänger and Pupi. Doppelgänger is about an elderly couple who meet on New Year’s Eve 1999 (actually at 4 a..m. on New Year’s Day). Both are widowed and both incontinent. We learn about them – thirty-six members of Isabella’s family were murdered in the Holocaust and she loves chocolate, Artur was in the Yugoslav Navy and collects hats. They have fumbling sex but things do not turn out well.

The life of Pupi, the eponymous protagonist of the second story, also does not turn out well. He has retired on a meagre pension at age 50, a former chemist and not very good secret agent. He lives with his parents but, when they die, his brother throws him out and things go downhill, as he become mentally unstable. Though grim Drndić throws in plenty of humour and absurdity and both stories work very well. Things do not turn out well for the rhinoceroses in the zoo, either.

Eduardo Halfon: Duelo (Mourning)

The latest addition to my website is Eduardo Halfon‘s Duelo (Mourning). This is a book about memory and recovering memory. The narrator – called Eduardo Halfon – carries out two investigations. The first is to track down the story of his grandfather, who had been in various concentration camps during the Holocaust but had survived and emigrated to Guatemala. The grandfather had refused to return to Poland or, indeed, to speak Polish, because of what he saw as the betrayal of the Jews by the Poles. The second is to find out what really happened to his father’s brother, Salomón, who may or may not have drowned in a lake when he was five. Halfon tells an excellent story of the two investigations and of his family in Guatemala and the United States, making it one of the more worthwhile memoir-as-novel books.

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