- File Size: 7114 KB
- Print Length: 249 pages
- Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (September 4, 2018)
- Publication Date: September 4, 2018
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0756DZ4C1
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #835 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$16.99|
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The Tattooist of Auschwitz: A Novel Kindle Edition
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From the Back Cover
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, 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 (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov’s experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
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I have read so many stories of this time, some good and some not so, some acclaimed and some relatively unknown. The Tattooist of Aushwitz is by far the best. Heather’s ability to make written words come to life is a true gift. This is one of those books that I will carry in my soul forever.
There are times you read books for entertainment and times you read for knowledge. This may be a bit of both because it involves a love story too - Lale and Gita. But oh, the horror of their situation.
Going with my usual format...
Is it worth the cost? $7.99 - yes, absolutetly.
Is it a page turner?
Yes, it is. Ordinarily, I would argue that this kind of book does not need to be a page turner because that's not the point... but it is.
Did I think about this book when I was not reading this book?
Not at first, I was able to put it down for a week and go on with my trip. But as I got further involved, I found myself thinking about Lale's story more and more and wanted to get back to the book.
Will I think about this book once I am finished?
Lale's story stays with you. As mentioned above, I actually visited Auschwitz while reading this book. On display are many photos of prisoners arriving, prisoners on their way to be gassed, murdered prisoners, starving prisoners. Frankly I could not look - it was too hard to put a face to such horrors. For me, this book gave a name to the millions of people who perished at Auschwitz and who lived too.
I was surprised to see so many positive reviews! A few others have been able to concisely pinpoint the problem with the writing - mainly the book is a narrative shell that primarily glosses over the struggle of surviving such dire circumstances to focus on a love plot with little dimension. Elementary prose and cheesy one-liners dominate this novel.
At the very least, I appreciate the attempt to bring light to such a unique, real-life love story....
The book is written like a bad teenage romance. I could live with that. What I found offensive was the description of life at Auschwitz. Sounded more like freshmen year at college--not a death camp. Meeting girls, making great friends-- I'm surprised the author didn't throw in a few dances and keg parties. Holocaust denial is real--and a book like this just serves to feed that narrative. The positive reviews of this book are mind boggling to me. Anything that normalizes the holocaust is highly offensive. Don't read it.
The abhorrent disgrace and disgust of the holocaust cries out “lest we never forget”, which our retribution portrays in these stories being retold and remembered from generation to generation. The Jews will proudly survive and our voices will be heard in unity.
My husband and I have walked through Auschwitz and Birkenau - a chilling icy tour of a deathly historical event in history which is incomprehensible albeit remembered.
Top international reviews
This is not a downbeat tale. The strength of the human spirit shines through on every page. It was hard to put down, I had to keep reading. And in the last pages there are amazing surprises.
A wonderful book about a truly remarkable character. I cannot recommend this more highly.
The story of daily life in Auschwitz is seen at all levels. There is the brutallity of the guards tempered a little by Lale being able to get favours from his personal guard. The treatment of the girls in the camp and how they try to make things as easy as possible for themselves; the horror of not knowing what has happened to an individual who disappears.
Even after the camp is liberated Lale's struggle to survive, find Gita and recover their lives gives a picture of what it must have been like in 1945 when the war ended. Definitely a must read book for everyone.
For me, it is among the 10 WORST BOOKS I have ever attempted to read. I gave up after 51% of its badly written nonsense. You've got a tattooist bossing the place, secreting cash, jewels, food etc and hiding it in plain sight under his mattress ... and it was "never discovered" or "stolen"??!! Yeh, right. This is a place where people are fighting for their lives and this book is written like it's a Carry On Death Camp farce, or a naive Mills & Boon romance. Consider these lines which are classic in their complete tripeyness: "Their lovemaking is passionate, desperate. It is a need, so long in the making that it cannot be denied." Urgh, euk and arghhh!!!! Really. Is this the best you can do with the potency and power of language? This is a death camp full of starved, emaciated people, riddled with body lice and doused with unspeakable strenchiness, bonking like it's a typical Sunday afternoon!! Really??? It's not even funny - it's just wretchedly written rubbish.
If you want to capture the full (fictional) horror of the death camp and what it took to survive read William Styron's beautifully written "Sophie's Choice". It is a million times better than this drivel. In fact, read anything other than this. You'll be far happier, I assure you and feel much better rewarded.
This takes the most heinous blot on the history of mankind and trivialises it into an utterly meaningless love affair that stretches all manner of imagination and credibility.
To me it deserves a big fat 0 out 10.
I absolutely hated it.
Yes, there are many Holocaust memoires, but there can never be too many, so no one ever forgets.
The author does little to focus the readers attention or catalogue the true horrors as the nazis increased their brutal experiments against ethnic groups in bigger numbers, the central character Lale is a happy-go-lucky chappy who loves to dress like a dandy with an Oedipus complex He becomes the tattooist of the camp & falls in love with a girl whist engraving her identity number He ducks and dives throughout the story, living a relatively charmed existence relatively speaking to other inmates & becomes a camp Robin Hood, obtaining jewellery, money & other valuables smuggled to him when prisoners are being processed he the trades these items with outside contractors for extra food which he distributes inside, sometimes as bribes for information from certain prisoners with status & kapos, especially to meet up with his girlfriend Gita for trysts
The characters are thin & flimsy, the narrative bland & lacking any sort of verve, it drones on to a very sceptical conclusion whereby they are randomly reunited after months of searching following the Nazi collapse as he is riding down a street in a horse and cart & she is standing on the corner
I wanted to read this novel because mentions of it – overwhelmingly positive – kept popping up in my timeline on various Social Media platforms. On Amazon UK 83% of ratings are 5* as I write. As at 19/12/18 the book has been 9 weeks in The Sunday Times Top Ten paperbacks. It is fairly rare that a book garners quite so many accolades.
The opening chapters describe Lele’s arrival and entry through the stark gates of Auschwitz/Birkenau (two camps separated by a mere 4 kilometres). Arbeit Macht Frei (work is freedom) is the mantra worked into the ironwork.
He is chosen by the working tattooist – der Tätowierer as he is called by the guards – to join him, as he ploughs through the daily arrivals, tattooing identity numbers into the wrists of the inmates. At first he balks, especially when faced with the gentle sex. He cannot imagine how it has come to this, that the green ink he uses has to mingle with the blood he draws as he gets to work with his needle. It is certainly not a pain-free process.
He is soon reconciled to his marginally elevated position in the camp because he is able to help other prisoners by sharing his meagre rations with his fellow inmates. As the Tätowierer he knows he also has a better chance of survival. He is also allowed to travel between the two camps depending on where he is needed and this slight freedom is a bonus.
Soon he sees Gita and it is love at first sight. The novel essentially charts their story of stoic survival against all the odds, set for 3 years amidst the hard-to-imagine conditions. It is a narrative “based on the powerful true story of Lale Sokolov“. The author conducted a research visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau, made a visit to Lale’s home town in Slovakia and spoke with the couple’s son.
The book’s real merit is that it this very dark period of human history to readable life. It is is written in an easy-to-read manner that presents this period of horror, perhaps to a new and younger generation. The writing in many ways is simple, however, without much psychological depth. The novel serves to highlight the inhumanity of the time, behaviour that should never be forgotten or glossed over, especially in the current political climate around the world.
Having said that, there was just an inkling that the research was slightly awry. Penicillin – acquired by Lele for Gita, who was at death’s door with typhus in the camp – wasn’t, for example, actually available during WW2. Coincidentally an article in The Guardian has highlighted other inconsistencies in the narrative. Further, Gita’s prisoner number is cited throughout the text but it is incorrect according to the Guardian report. This begs the question as to how much a fictionalised account can override and supersede the actual ‘true story’, which of course is one of the book’s selling points.
The author describes at one point how Lele (because of the perks of his job, allowing him greater access to more food than the average prisoner) is despised. This never actually gets explored, the focus is more on his generosity and selflessness; it feels a very positive slant to have taken but not very ‘real’ and balanced somehow. The group and individual dynamics, both emotional and psychological, of innumerable people clustered together in insanitary and harsh conditions, with ritual humiliation and torture, is never explored. The narrative thus relies on depicting horror without much depth.
Indeed, the author describes terrible things: Mengele and his inhuman practices, the stereotyped SS dolts who supervise the camp’s prisoners, the near death experiences, the persecution, hardship and defilement. And yet. This feels like a lightweight treatment of a heavyweight subject.
For me novels like The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elizabeth Gifford, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and If This is a Man/The Truce by Primo Levi offer the gravitas and insight that this period of history deserves. The Tattooist of Auschwitz feels more populist and rather lacks authority and congruity. It is however very readable.