The Unloved: From the Diary of Perla S.: A Novel

Arnost Lustig, Author Arbor House $14.95 (197p) ISBN 978-0-87795-739-3
This fictional diary, stoic jottings by a 17-year-old inmate of Theresienstadt, underlines the anguish of the Holocaust through its very absence of complaint. Tiny, exquisite, a self-styled Jewish whore, Perla contemplates her body and the men who use it; she does so without disgust, easy with the knowledge of her sexual power. From the moment she enters the camp at age 14, Perla submitsfor a gram of bread, some matches, fur from a coat collarto men's desires. Mostly they are fellow-Jews, but there is also a Luftwaffe officer, unable, despite his disdain, to stay away, whom she murders the night before she is to be sent to the East. Although she looks on with proper compassion when her parents and friends are led into the transport cars, her enduring companion is the rat beneath her floor-boards, the one living thing who, like herself, is emotionless. Scorning nothing and no one, she welcomes intrusions into her body because they provide sensation but never penetrate her closed heart. For her there is pain not in approaching death but in life, from which she has banished love. Lustig, himself a concentration camp survivor, is a professor at American University. October 30
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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