There are no simple, happy endings in this book by Heather Camlot, which follows the notoriously antisemitic Dreyfus Affair. The event began in France of 1894, when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was falsely accused of treason and found guilty. Beautifully illustrated and easy to understand, The Prisoner and the Writer caters to young readers who may be encountering this piece of history for the first time.
After much deliberation and research, popular French writer Emile Zola began a campaign to free Dreyfus, the only Jewish soldier in the French army and a man he believed to be a victim of antisemitism rather than a traitor. As a result, Zola was found guilty of libel and fled France, having received mounting death threats.
Dreyfus was ultimately found innocent and released from prison — but only after spending five torturous years there. Aptly named “Devil’s Island,” it was a place characterized by extreme heat, poisonous insects, and debilitating loneliness. Zola, on the other hand, returned to France after a year in exile. Both men showed inspiring courage and dignity despite their devastating circumstances.
Written in compelling verse, The Prisoner and the Writer opens up many themes for important educational discussion.
Award-winning journalist and freelance writer, Helen Weiss Pincus, has taught memoir writing and creative writing throughout the NY Metro area to senior citizens and high school students. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Record, The Jewish Standard, and other publications. She recently added “Bubby” to her job description.