My Holo­caust

  • Review
By – March 23, 2012

Cen­ter stage in Tova Reich’s sharp, satir­i­cal nov­el is Mau­rice Mess­er, the oppor­tunis­tic head of Holo­caust Con­nec­tions, Inc.,” a con­sult­ing group that nets mil­lions cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the Holo­caust brand. The action of the nov­el kicks off on a tour of the Auschwitz-Birke­nau death camp, where Mau­rice must bal­ance mon­ey­mak­ing endeav­ors with cer­tain per­son­al mat­ters: his son’s inep­ti­tude in busi­ness for one, his granddaughter’s Chris­t­ian con­ver­sion for anoth­er. The set­ting lat­er moves to the site of a dif­fer­ent memo­r­i­al, the Holo­caust Muse­um in Wash­ing­ton D.C., where Maurice’s wheel­ing and deal­ing in the sym­pa­thy game comes back to haunt him.

What col­ors this sto­ry is not only a Mess­er fam­i­ly squab­ble, but a world­wide strug­gle to attain vic­tim roy­al­ty” — a quest that leaves no cul­tur­al group or polit­i­cal affil­i­a­tion safe from Reich’s bit­ing wit. The third-per­son per­spec­tive rotates point-ofview through­out, treat­ing the read­er to a cast of eclec­tic char­ac­ters, unit­ed in their attempts to co-opt the suf­fer­ing of the Jews. We meet for instance, Tom­my Mes­si­ah, a ped­dler of fake Nazi mem­o­ra­bil­ia, and Jake Gilguli, a Bud­dhist new-age TV star who pro­claims to have died at Auschwitz in a for­mer life. The author’s live­ly and bru­tal­ly hon­est depic­tions pro­vide us with unfor­get­table guides through this far­ci­cal yet eeri­ly famil­iar world.

Phil Sandick is a grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son. He has taught cours­es in lit­er­a­ture, com­po­si­tion, and cre­ative writ­ing since 2006. Phil is cur­rent­ly study­ing rhetoric and com­po­si­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of North Car­oli­na-Chapel Hill.

Discussion Questions