“The tattooing has taken only seconds, but Lale’s shock makes time stand still.”

The Central Library Brown Baggers book group met virtually on Nov. 19th to discuss  The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. 

This book tells the story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer, tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. One day, Lale meets another prisoner named Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

The Brown Baggers were impressed with Lale’s character, describing him as flashy, charming, charismatic, optimistic, dogged, and determined. They were less impressed with Gita, mentioning she is hard to empathize with, as she is presented as a fairly flat person, not a well-developed character. Many of the group members felt the reading experience was weird or uncomfortable, due to the romantic plot in such horrific settings, calling it the ‘Hallmark’ version of a WWII story. 

Nevertheless, many enjoyed the read, although cited WWII fatigue after reading A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell last month. There was also much discussion of what concentration camp historical sites are like in the modern day, with several Brown Baggers describing trips they or their family had made to the sites, and the horrors still represented within.

The Brown Baggers will meet again virtually on Thursday, December 17th at noon to select future titles (for June 2021-May 2022).  Please email kfarrell@jmrl.org for details on how to participate from your computer or phone.

Books Mentioned:

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Films:

La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful), (1997)

Links:

Synchronicity Films to Bring the Tattooist of Auschwitz to the Screen

Daily Mail – The Tattooist of Auschwitz Controversy: Author in Clash with Holocaust Survivor’s Son Over ‘Mistakes’ In International Bestseller

Love To Teach – A Discussion of the Tattooist of Auschwitz

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