The Morn­ing Star

André Schwarz-Bart; Julie Rose, trans.
  • Review
By – August 31, 2011
Essen­tial­ly a fable about the Holo­caust, this sto­ry is dis­tanced by a fram­ing tale: far in the future, mankind has tran­scend­ed human mor­tal­i­ty and aban­doned Earth for the stars. A researcher returns, and stud­ies at Yad Vashem. She is fas­ci­nat­ed by the love of life ema­nat­ing from the man­u­scripts and makes Achilles’ choice: short and glo­ri­ous instead of long and bor­ing, she gives up her immor­tal­i­ty in order to savor the brief, pre­cious spark.

The sto­ry itself fol­lows one fam­i­ly through sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions, until the twelve-year-old apt­ly-named Haim (Life) escapes the mas­sacre of his vil­lage only to land in the War­saw Ghet­to. With beau­ti­ful lan­guage, strik­ing images, and a sur­re­al land­scape pop­u­lat­ed with Jew­ish heroes and folk­lore, Andre Schwarz-Bart turns the unthink­able and unbear­able into a daz­zling por­trait of courage and hope, and shows us why it is impor­tant to tell and retell these stories.
Sydelle Shamah has been lead­ing book club dis­cus­sions for many years, and is a pub­lished sci­ence fic­tion writer. She was pres­i­dent of the Ruth Hyman Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Mon­mouth Coun­ty, NJ.

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