Empty House

Marga Minco, Author
Marga Minco, Author Peter Owen Publishers $27.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0760-4
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
After the Allies liberate Holland, Yona, a young Jew who has spent the Nazi occupation in hiding, returns to her family's house in Amsterdam; it is boarded up and locked, and when Yona pokes her hand through the mail slot, she feels ``a big, cold hole.'' Its occupants deported and killed, its furnishings carted off, and its floors and walls used for fuel during the bitter last winter of the war, the house is pitilessly empty--a concrete symbol of the void left by the Holocaust. The image of the empty house acts as a prison for Yona and for her friend Sepha, also the sole living member of her family, as both women are hollowed by losses too vast to mourn. Dutch author Minco ( The Fall ) relies on an austere story line about Sepha's troubled marriage to imply the damage done to survivors. Her nonlinear narrative, dotted with flashbacks and chronological ellipses, parallels the protagonists' inability to fashion a future from the wreckage of history. Effectively understated, this impressive novel is no less delicate than it is disturbing. (Feb.)
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