A Scrap of Time

Ida Fink, Author Pantheon Books $15.95 (165p) ISBN 978-0-394-55806-6
The tension evoked by these 23 seminal Holocaust tales, deftly translated from Polish, is sharpened by their brevity and lack of sentimentality. This is a jarring, powerful debut by a 66-year-old Israeli author who escaped from a Polish ghetto during the Nazi occupation and lived underground throughout the war's duration. Fink, who records the memories of Holocaust survivors at Yad Vashem, bases her stories on authentic, partially autobiographical material, focusing on the excruciating uncertainty of Jews in hiding rather than death camp physical atrocities. In the title story, the narrator's young cousin abandons his hiding place during an ""action'' or roundup: ``That impatience of the heart, that trembling of the nerves, the burden of isolation, condemned him to extermination.'' Make-believe has a real-life ulterior motive in ``The Key Game''; parents train their three-year-old son to pretend and tell outsiders that his father, who is evading deportation, is dead. And in ``A Conversation,'' a couple's safety hangs on the wife's acquiescence to the husband's love affair with their Christian protector. A number of stories keenly depict the pariah status of survivors at the war's end. In ``The Shelter,'' well-meaning peasants horrify their Jewish friends because they have included a hiding-place for them in their newly built home ``just in case something happens.'' (July)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
Paperback - 978-0-8052-0869-6
Paperback - 165 pages - 978-0-8101-1259-9
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