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Book review: Hanna Krall writes violent and casual about the Holocaust

How do you tell if a bruised life? To begin with: it does not. Because it does not go together. It is just bruised, contradictory, fragmented, and incomprehensible. Some things make very hurt, the other feels maybe not at all. If you are not going to lay down and die you must live. That is to say, it becomes necessary to insert themselves in the common human narrative. Go on a order that just almost could be true. The basic functionality comes first: eat, sleep, cope with everyday routines. Let the time roll linear though it is perceived as hoptrasslad in a ball.

Hanna Krall was born in 1935 as a jew in Poland. Her entire family was murdered in the concentration camp Majdanek. She was hidden and survived the Holocaust, and is today a supported writer and journalist. Her friend, the film director Krzysztof Kieślowski, has based his film ”the Decalogue: VIII” on her life. It is based on the commandment ”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”. The prototypical setting where the christian couple refuses to save her by becoming the godfathers, which would require that they went with a lie, is central in both the film and this book: ”They are believers, they can't lie, there will be no dopattest.” Instead of dopattest, the mother and the girl bread and lard, in exchange for a service. The tableware called ”White Maria” and it is the one that gave the novel its name.

book review: Hanna Kralls ”Hjärterkung”

the pieces of her childhood. She follows the christian couple, where the man known as ”J. S.”, and further through the archives, and testimonials. She confronts Kieślowski whose film is of course fictional and sanitized. In short fragmentartade chapter, you hear scattered voices and friends. It is a hassle. Violent and casual about every other. One track leads to another and it becomes increasingly impossible to determine what happened, of coincidences and of the ice-cold scheming. Death is everywhere: ”the security services against hemmaarmén. Hemmaarmén against the security services and against the traitors. Someone shot and killed a woman because she had been with in the militia. The middle of the rye field. Someone else had shot the carpenter, by mistake, it turned out afterwards.”

”the White Mary” is so far from pliant underhållningsprosa it is possible to get. Krall refuses to let the big story round, and will therefore closer to real life in all its complexity. I do not need to say that this kind of literature is endlessly solicitous in the day, both politically and aesthetically. But perhaps I should clarify that the Krall also is entertaining, sometimes, in a terse, a bit savage way. Her sense of humor the glimpses presented in the formulations, and signals a will to live that is stronger than most.

The old poet Tadeusz Różewicz – which is heavy and good and the multi-translated into English, read to him! – answers her quietly, ”please and let the darkness be. For the light's sake, for the world of appearance sake. The rest of life, we must live in the light.”

book review: Christopher Browning's ”ordinary men”

the opposition, and sharing the hope, however, for that to be possible is just what is needed such books as Hanna Kralls ”the White Mary”.

Read more book reviews in the DN.

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