Anja's War is the fictional story of a Holocaust survivor's (Anja Schulberg) retelling of her life's joys and sorrows as well as her farewell to manyAnja's War is the fictional story of a Holocaust survivor's (Anja Schulberg) retelling of her life's joys and sorrows as well as her farewell to many of the people, places, and memories she has left behind. This retelling is done through the tape recorder, thoughts, and editorializations of Cliff Potter, a man who has decided to write a non-fiction book about her.
Anja Schulberg, now an octogenarian living in London, grew up in Poland and experienced the beginning years of World War II in the great city of Warsaw. Having lost many of her friends and family members during the so-called "ethnic cleansing," Anja's strength, cleverness, and her expansive education (not to mention sheer luck) pulled her through the war and the following years of Nazi trials. Not only does Anja tell about her years in Warsaw during the German occupation as well as her experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz but she also goes into detail about the British liberation of the camp and her subsequent participation in the Nazi trials and the search for one of the worst Nazis that worked at Auschwitz, Adolf Eichmann.
When I first began reading this book, I was quite disappointed that this was a novel and not in fact a biography. I was entirely expecting this to be a non-fiction work, and it is odd to me even now that someone would choose to write a novel about an interview with a Holocaust survivor. All of the details given by the main character about her experiences during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and her subsequent detention at Auschwitz were stereotypical and were details one could find in a history book. There wasn't anything really genuine about her individual experience. There was only one event that I found to be unique to her and her family's situation, but I choose not to spoil it here.
Moreover, the narrator of the story, Cliff Potter, editorialized way too much. So many times, after Anja would finish describing an experience of hers, he would narrate to the reader how strong she was and what a great woman she was. That was clear and evident in the introduction to the novel and didn't need to be rehashed and rehashed. It got to be overwhelming. Moreover, after certain passages when Anja had been speaking for a while, Cliff would pause and interpret what she said for the reader. This is completely unnecessary. Leave it up to the reader to interpret the gravity or intensity or excitement of the passages. It was all just too much.
Finally, because I can't possibly explain all of the issues that I had with this novel, the last thing I will note is that this book needs a thorough editing. Serious grammatical errors made many parts of the novel difficult to read and follow, and I almost didn't make it all the way through because of this. ...more
This is a book about new beginnings, about starting over, but also about how, at our very core, we as individuals never really change our true naturesThis is a book about new beginnings, about starting over, but also about how, at our very core, we as individuals never really change our true natures. Written with a flurry of witticisms and an excellent sense of direction and purpose, this is truly a novel to enjoy.
The plot revolves around a startling and earth-shaking event, when a fraction of the world's population suddenly and inexplicably disappears. Some believe this event to be the Rapture, a prophetic event described in the biblical book of Revelation. However, some assert that because atheists, Buddhists, and other unlikely candidates to enter Heaven were amongst those who disappeared, it seems quite unlikely that this was the Rapture after all.
As time goes on (and as the novel progresses), things slowly return to normal, or at least as close to normal as they can, considering the circumstances. Those who didn't disappear, "the leftovers," must now decide what path they want their lives to take. Some people devote all of their energy and effort into becoming more righteous and devoted to God, believing that the next time he decides to call his people home, they will not be left behind. Then there are those who are not members of this Doomsday Cult, and who must find their way in a world that has utterly changed, in a world that has shifted its priorities, that is filled with sadness and gloom, but that nevertheless will move on, even if they don't want to.
But what is essential to note in all of this is that each individual ends up choosing a new path that is true to his or her nature--the new life each one chooses for him- or herself is predictable in a way. We are who we are, are we not? A valid insight into the deep and sometimes mysterious workings of human nature. ...more