Bela Zsolt, Author, Ladislaus Lob, Translator , trans. from the Hungarian by Ladislaus Löb. Schocken $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4204-1

Hungarian Jewish novelist and journalist Zsolt (who died in 1949) experienced more than his share of suffering, as documented in this Holocaust memoir published in English for the first time (it originally appeared in serial form in 1946 in a magazine Zsolt founded). Born in 1895, Zsolt was well known in intellectual circles during the 1920s and '30s as a liberal political journalist. This book highlights his years in Ukraine as a forced laborer for the Hungarian army, the months he spent in a ghetto in Nagyvárad awaiting deportation to Auschwitz and his escape from the ghetto in the spring of 1944 (he eventually made it to Switzerland with his wife). As one of the first Holocaust memoirs, this piercing account displays a raw freshness that is as vivid as it is horrifying. It lacks the genre's usual displays of hope and strength, focusing instead on humanity's basest instincts, as expressed by the brutal Hungarian gendarmes and by their Jewish victims as well. Noting his inability to write of the horrors he experienced, Szolt reports, "I resisted my own experiences with elementary force, like a man who tries to overcome a malignant tumor that pokes conspicuously through his skin by not looking...." Clearly, Szolt's writing capacity returned with a vengeance after the war; his powerful, poignant honesty shows little mercy to his readers' sensibilities. (Nov. 9)

Reviewed on: 09/06/2004
Release date: 11/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 324 pages - 978-0-224-06305-0
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