This is the story of Lale Sokolov, an Auschwitz survivor who met and fell in love with Gita Furman, another prisoner. They meet after the war and spend the rest of their lives together. Lale had a privileged position in Auschwitz due to his role as the tattooist of new arrivals.
Lale told his story to Morris when he was an old man. His story has been verified with records from Auschwitz, but I feel it’s important to note that this is a work of fiction, and isn’t presented as a memoir. There are many historical inconsistencies and it isn’t an attempt to present a real history at all.
It’s a nice enough story. But it left me weirdly emotionally unmoved. And considering this is a book about the actual holocaust, that’s really strange. You couldn’t get a setting that should automatically have me weeping through the story. But I just wasn’t feeling it at all. It felt like an easy read. Too easy. Lale’s Auschwitz experience seemed charmed compared to most stories.
It read like Holocaust-lite. And that was just bizarre. Also, a lot of the details of the story just seemed fanciful and unreal. This was a book club read, and it split the book club. Seems you either really like it or hate it.
I really wouldn’t recommend this book, I could recommend many books with the same setting that are so moving. I would actually be unhappy to thing someone might read this and think it gave a great representation of what life in Auschwitz might have been like. Read Night by Elie Wiesel instead.