The Last Lullaby: Poetry from the Holocaust

Aaron Kramer, Editor, Saul Lishinsky, Illustrator, Aaron Kramer, Translator Syracuse University Press $19.95 (280p) ISBN 978-0-8156-0579-9
A Holocaust survivor chronicles her family history, complete with its myths and symbols, sorrows and joys, for her granddaughter in this strongly affecting novel of hope and mourning. Narrator Rachael Silver begins her saga with the disappearance, 80 years earlier, of her grandfather, Dov Landau, from a little town in Romania. A cobbler by trade, an ornithologist by vocation, Dov literally takes refuge from imminent pogroms in the pelican nesting grounds of the Danube delta, leaving his wife, Reba, and five-year-old daughter, Sonia, in the hands of their friend, the gypsy Ovid. The three cross Eastern Europe together, settling at a spa in the Cerna valley, where they hide their origins to form a new family. Sonia grows up a gifted healer who marries an elderly musician and has a daughter of her own, narrator Rachael. WWI drives Sonia and Rachael to seek refuge in Prague, then WWII sends them underground as they hide from the Gestapo for four dark years. After the war, the two women realize Sonia's dream of moving to Buenos Aires. With her doctor husband, Rachael assimilates into Argentine life until their political activist daughter ""disappears,"" a victim of the Dirty War of the '70s. When Rachael learns from a former prisoner that her daughter gave birth to a baby girl in prison, she writes her family's history of exile, persecution and loss, her harrowing and beautiful ""testimony of survivors,"" for Marcella, her yet-unknown granddaughter. Kornblatt's (Nothing to Do with Love) lyrical narrative blends Singer's magic realism with Wiesel's sorrowful morality and Borges's elegant storytelling. Inventive in language and imagery, Kornblatt conveys the ways by which one family survives, continually reimagining itself, unearthing the painful past so that the newest heir may honor, and remember, her remarkable ancestors. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1999
Release date: 02/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
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