Missing Pieces: Stories

Stanislaw Benski, Author, Walter W. Arndt, Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-15-160585-9
Polish writer Benski's (1922-1988) fictional universe is peopled by survivors, like the author, of the Holocaust, seemingly betrayed by time and left to reassemble the elusive traces of their previous lives. Drawn from five of Benski's works published in Poland during his tenure as director of the State Social Welfare Home for the Aged, these powerful, poignant tales of life in postwar Warsaw evoke the losses suffered by Jews who survived or escaped the ghettos, the camps, the everyday horrors. His characters are possessed by their memories and driven by an urgent need to affirm a past long since destroyed: they wander through Warsaw searching for streets, people and habits no longer in existence, nursing that most piercing wound, the destruction of identity. Images and characters sift in and out of splintered narratives, vouchsafing memories both real and fantastic, the ``precious stones, the diamonds of life.'' In a voice that recalls the anguished futility of Beckett and Kundera, Benski's stories are themselves diamonds to be treasured, and this translation of his work is to be applauded. Arndt is a professor at Dartmouth and translator of The Best of Rilke. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
Paperback - 172 pages - 978-0-15-660798-8
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