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The Thief of Auschwitz

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  401 ratings  ·  73 reviews
"The camp at Auschwitz took one year of my life, and of my own free will I gave it another four."

So begins The Thief of Auschwitz, the much-anticipated new novel from Jon Clinch, award-winning author of Finn and Kings of the Earth.

In The Thief of Auschwitz, Clinch steps for the first time beyond the deeply American roots of his earlier books to explore one of the darkest m
Paperback, 274 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by unmediated ink (first published December 1st 2012)
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Jon Clinch has a gift for exposing the heart and souls of his characters, even in the darkest of circumstances. I loved "Kings of the Earth, and I expected to "The Thief of Auschwitz" to bring that unique combination of beautiful writing, uncomfortable settings and dark topics, dark settings.

Clinch pulled me in from the first line and it was impossible to put this down from that moment on.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Clinch, a master storyteller, effortlessly moves into a Holocaust story here, following a family, as it struggles to survive Auschwitz. He avoids the over-melodramatic, by keeping the narrative grounded, although there is still plenty here to break your heart. This is my third read, by Clinch and all were excellent. He is batting a 1,000, in my book.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
I'm a longtime fan of Jon Clinch, and though this book is very different in feel from Finn and Kings of the Earth, I liked it just as much. Without minimizing or diluting the horrors of Auschwitz, Clinch demonstrates how literature can show us the light and shadows in even the darkest experiences. Clinch's characters bring us close to the story, and while we feel the pain and know what lies ahead, we keep reading, because we care. ...more
Mary Beth
Jan 27, 2013 marked it as to-read
Jon Clinch has written another novel for my top ten list. The Thief of Auschwitz is as beautifully written as all of his books, but the style is much more spare and unadorned - like the setting where the story unfolds. In all Holocaust books the suffering of the victims is overwhelming, but in this story the inhumanity of the Nazis is equally horrifying in its detached, measured cruelty. Somehow, though, the novel manages to be uplifting. One thing the Nazis couldn't destroy was the loving tie b ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booktopia-2013
I was surprised that I liked this book less than I liked Finn by Jon Clinch and Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch .

By saying that, I don't want to put anyone off reading it. For those who like simple storytelling values, it's a great treat. And for some, this book may prove to be their favorite Clinch novel. Think of books like The Help by Kathryn Stockett , Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen , and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak , which offer similar twists, turns, tears, scares, and thrills.

Based on his earlier work, though, I expect Clinch to deliver more literary invention. Such as the way "Finn" created a tightly fi
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
What a story !!! The Author, Jon Clinch, stayed the course, never wandered into something meaningless. He kept me interested thru out.
The Story is about a Jewish family - mom, dad, daughter and a 14 year old son, that did ALL they could to stay alive as a FAMILY. The Mother, an artist and the dad a barber make thier mark at Auschwitz. Unfortunately the daughter loses her life the first day. Now, the artist, the barber and the son, must figure out how to survive of what's left of the family. Ahhh
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Captured in their native Poland, Jacob and Eidel Rosen and children Max and Lydia arrive at Auschwitz. Men and women reside in separate quarters with little interaction. The family never sees Lydia again. Jacob wisely tells twelve-year-old Max to lie about his age to avoid the gas chamber where children are sent. The only thing remaining of Lydia is a portrait painted by Eidel which now hangs in an official's home. Will using that work of art as a bargaining chip boost the family's odds of survi ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This new book from Jon Clich was an unexpectedly fast read for me (almost finished it in one sitting). It manages to convey the harsh realities of World War II concentration camp life, the value of art and the acts and impact of love, while using a sly, sardonic humor to avoid becoming too dark and too depressing. Central to the novel is a painting of young girl bathed in sunlight and the novel itself seems to glow with that same sunlight, contrasting the darkness and shadows all around it. The ...more
Brian Sweany
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Oh but for that elusive fifth star, a conscious decision in reviewing THE THIEF OF AUSCHWITZ for which I'm admittedly being unfair to Jon Clinch. I found it impossible to review this book in a vacuum, outside the context of the vast swath of Holocaust literature that precedes it obviously, but also outside the context of the author's short but prodigious career.

From Anne Frank to Elie Wiesel to the newly rediscovered Hans Fallada, the voices of the Holocaust cast long shadows over this canon of
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The story starts in 1942 when the Rosen family with no other alternative arrives at the train station to Auschwitz where for the next year through death, humiliation, degradation and torture their lives are documented. The story is told in excruciatingly painful words to read but also with all the humanness that makes this such an important novel. We’re introduced to all sorts of characters from the soldiers to the prisoners, from the truly cruel to those who’s cruelty resulted from the circumst ...more
Yet another holocaust novel that is well written and full of revolting details on atrocities that, actually if I'm honest, sometimes I'd rather "unknow", given that this fiction is based on the most unbelievably horrific crimes committed in the fairly recent past.

In "The Thief of Auschwitz" the author investigates the parental love angle; how far will parents go to save their beloved child, or even the memory of their child? I don't think we even need the extreme circumstances of a concentratio
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As its survivors slowly leave us, the brutal cost of the Holocaust for millions upon millions of families grows dim even though Shoah projects across the globe scramble to preserve stories of the perished and connect survivors. The Thief of Auschwitz is an intimate, necessary representation of one family’s love and sacrifice in this horrific context. Even if the convergence of events would have been unlikely in the randomness of the larger reality, this compelling tale reminds us to honor such f ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After finishing this book, I realized that the thief was Auschwitz. Stolen were people's stories. A survivor, an artist in his own right, attempts to recapture the one told on canvas by his mother. Auschwitz: the place of thousands of horror stories, a place where stories were stolen. Stories that elude recapture. ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Since I teach the Holocaust each year, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of the time period and the atrocities that took place. The Thief of Auschwitz is a brief look at life in Auschwitz - specifically about what happens to one family as they enter the camp. Compelling and gripping, The Thief of Auschwitz is a new look at a horrific time in history.
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I finished this book this morning and immediately marked it as finished on Goodreads and gave it a four-star rating. After lunch, when I was more lucid, I couldn't really think of why I would give it a four. Yes, it was good. It was intriguing. There was nothing outstandingly terrible about it...yet nor was there anything outstandingly wonderful.

In modern times, Max Rosen is a famous artist who has been forced to look back on his life now that he is - on paper, at least - nearing 80 years old. H
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: con-ficition
The Thief of Auschwitz by Jon Clinch is an ARC sent by Kelley & Hall. Clinch took an unusual step in self-publishing this novel: could have been risky-- but maybe not, because he had already made a name for himself with his first novel Finn, which was "named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Christian Science Monitor." Other critical acclaim came from the ALA, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus.

I can't say that I "liked" Finn, but I apprecia
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Thief Of Auschwitz was a deeply moving look at one family's quest to survive the notorious death camp, Auschwitz. Upon arrival, Jacob and his son, Max were immediately separated from his wife Eidel and daughter Lydia. The narration was very detailed and had several peaks that were emotional and thought-provoking.
Jacob made a niche for himself as the barber for the SS after protecting Max by telling him to say he is 18 instead of 14. The lie was enough to save Max from being taken to the gas
Dec 09, 2012 marked it as to-read
A family of four, Jacob, the father a barber; Eidel, the mother a very talented artist; Max, the 14-yr old son, big for his age and Lydia, a little slower and asthmatic but a beautiful child. They are taking a train ride like no other – to Auschwitz. Yes, they are Jews. Their trials, brief moment of happiness bring together an epic tale of love and sacrifice. Bittersweet reunions of a sort and the ultimate escape by one of them.
This story was so moving to me that I actually cried through quite a
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Clinch has the gentle touch necessary to tell a tale like this, one of the millions of small stories that make up such a staggeringly big one. He steers clear of pathos or melodrama, instead using his story to bear witness to the significance of one family's lives. That it also happens to be a captivating -- all right, I'll say it: entertaining -- book doesn't discount its seriousness at all. The tale of Jacob, Eidel, Max, and Lydia Rosen is a reminder that while storytelling generally can't sav ...more
John Kaess
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the Audible version of this instead of reading it because the story is told from two perspectives: that of The Rosen family (Eidel - mom, Jacob - dad and Max - son) in Auschwitz and also that of Max at age 80 reflecting back. The nature of the two perspectives lends itself naturally to having two narrators, one for the story in Auschwitz and another for the elderly Max looking back over his life. The two perspectives intertwine well throughout the book though I found myself constan ...more
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Because I loved Jon Clinch’s Finn and Kings of the Earth so much I could hardly wait to get my hands on The Thief of Auschwitz. Unfortunately, Clinch set the jump pretty high for himself with the first two books, so that I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed in this one. Perhaps it’s because so many books have been written about the Holocaust, or perhaps it’s because I’ve read way too many. This is a well-written book that I plowed right through. But…but… Don’t get me wrong, it’s an exce ...more
Cindy S
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the inspirational, heartbreaking story of the Rosen family, Jacob, Eidel, Max and Lydia, caught in the Nazi takeover. Jacob is a barber and Eidel is an artist. Both skills are utilized in the concentration camp. The story alternates with a narrative by Max as an old man, living in America. Moving and horrifying, it is a story of unbelievable courage and the need to remain human while enduring extreme brutality.
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014-reads
I can't put my finger on why I didn't love this book, but I didn't. For such an emotional subject matter, I never felt any true emotion in the characters. They all seemed flat and I had trouble caring about them (even though they were in such a horrible setting). Maybe it was the writing style that I had trouble with, but whatever it was, I didn't enjoy this book. ...more
Liz Hobbins
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favorite from Jon Clinch - very different from his other two - he did a wonderful job of conveying the horror of the camp without actually providing any detailed events - I really felt the bond between the members of the Rosen family, manifested in spite of their physical separation. A touching novel, at once sad and triumphant.
Charlie Newfell
Jun 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written, and although describes the absolute horrors and suffering of Auschwitz, it's the little vignettes that will stay with you. These stories humanize it for all of us who can't fathom what it was like. A must read. ...more
Priscilla Dicarlo
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I met Jon this past weekend and I told him I knew I was going to like his book after I read the first sentence. A truly wonderful and heartfelt story.

Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Jon Clinch writes a bit harsh and hard, the story is a Good one, but I had trouble connecting with the characters
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Appropriate to write this review on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

After I just discovered this author via his newest book, Marley (which I greatly enjoyed), and then slogged through a mediocre novel set in WWII/holocaust, I decided to go in reverse order and read the author’s second to last book next (And it was apparently self-published, so I couldn’t even find it in the multiply linked libraries in the N. California area (and beyond), so I actually had to buy it). Glad I did.

Any book about the ca
Liz V.
May 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peri Kinder
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I didn't have high hopes for a happy ending since this book is set in AUSCHWITZ - plus Jon Clinch doesn't exactly choose the most optimistic of characters - but I was riveted from start to finish.

Because Nazis are assholes, Jews were sent to Auschwitz to die - either a slow death or a quick one. The Rosen family lives an idyllic life until, spoiler alert, they end up being transported to the death camp in Poland. Jacob and his son are sent in one direction, Eidel and Lydia are sent to another.

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Jon Clinch’s first novel, Finn—the secret history of Huckleberry Finn’s father—was named an American Library Association Notable Book and was chosen as one of the year’s best books by The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Chicago Tribune. His second novel, Kings of the Earth, was named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post and led the 2010 Summer Reading List at O, T ...more

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“Maybe a little,” says Jacob. “You see, it’s not my wife who needs a favor. It’s my son.” “First your wife, and now your son? It’s as I always say. There is no host in the” 0 likes
“and gives him a sheepish look as she hands them over. “Now kerosene,” he says. “That lamp on your table.” “Yes sir,” she says, unscrewing the tank. “This is just what we need to burn away that thing. Shall we take the entire bunk outdoors? Burn it in the yard? I’m sure whichever way you choose will be the” 0 likes
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