After­shocks: Stories

Grete Weil; John S. Bar­rett, trans.
  • Review
By – January 5, 2012
Weil’s poet­ic, sur­pris­ing book (writ­ten in 1992, trans­lat­ed in 2008) con­ceives of those who escaped the Holo­caust with their lives as covert sur­vivors, sub­ject always to the dev­as­tat­ing rip­ples of pain and mem­o­ry that irra­di­ate the rest of their lives. Whether remain­ing in Ger­many or else­where in Europe, or build­ing new lives in Amer­i­ca, Weil’s char­ac­ters can­not fit into the real world because of the expe­ri­ences in the unre­al world from which they came. Weil, who lived in Munich and died in 1996 at 93, seems to con­ceive of her­self as a pseu­do-sur­vivor, nev­er hav­ing seen the inside of a con­cen­tra­tion camp, though her hus­band died there in 1941. Guilt per­me­ates these sto­ries, guilt and a sense of per­pet­u­al shock at the abil­i­ty of a life to go on, per­haps nowhere more poignant­ly than in the final sto­ry in the col­lec­tion, And I? A Wit­ness to Pain.” Here, Weil writes naked­ly about her own sur­vival, won­der­ing, Maybe I’ve remained alive sim­ply because I didn’t wit­ness enough.”
Car­olyn Slut­sky has writ­ten for The New York Times, Pub­lish­ers Week­ly and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She is a staff writer at The Jew­ish Week.

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