a novel of love and death in shanghai
“i love you but your help isn’t helping”
“all readers are not leaders, but all leaders are readers”
yes, tal-even the bad ones. intelligence and intent are not always aligned. big thanks to nehal for the excerpt that i read on entry-level goat cheese that i read half an hour ago, and to vincia for that kid in a snuggie remaking countdown. i am nothing without the brilliant women that hover about me. i’m one step closer to acknowledging the forest of reading (by yelling excitedly at librarians on the tweeter-oh boy), and i got the idea to look at all the lists in my break from LTR, because i’m sure that the kids’ books are just as great as the regulation humans’. this one is another stunning example of canadian writers telling an alternate side of the WWII story. from yann martel’s beatrice and virgil and esi edugyan’s half blood blues to the current evergreen book that i’m devouring, frances itani’s requiem, this collection is pretty mighty. the author pulls no punches, starting the story in kristallnacht, and does not relent in calling out the complicity that is the silence necessary for atrocities to keep happening.
“Aside from the Jews, the rest of Vienna seemed to have awoken to a typical autumn day. Non-Jewish businesses, their windows pristine, welcomed customers as usual. The scent of baking bread and brewing coffee filled the air. Gentiles bustled along the sidewalks past the broken windows, vandalized storefronts and Jews scrubbing the roads under armed guard as though it were a morning like any other.
Has the whole city gone mad?” (20)
“‘Ah.’ Franz nodded. ‘The extremists, like the rabid Nazis who would kill us Jews with their own hands, have always been around. But the complicit moderates! They are the ones who empower the fanatics. People like this diplomat who are too educated to believe Hitler’s nonsense about a superior race but happy to benefit from his hostile policies. They have
turned a blind eye and allowed the fanatics to spread their poison and terrorize people at will. Ultimately, men like
Swartzmann have done the most damage.'” (232-3)
i also appreciate the politics of aid, power struggles that play out in taking advantage of people in tragic situations, moving from bad to worse situations, children of dead mothers and their abandonment issues, martyr fathers, and very pivotal letters.