This is an interesting study of a group of young twenty-something Israeli men and women. Each of them comes from different backgrounds with roots in the Middle East, Northern or Eastern Europe, different family situations and cultures, and some are children of Holocaust survivors. They talk about what brought them or their families to Israel and how they feel about the Palestinian situation. Quite a nice view into the minds of today's young Israeli adults. Published in the early 90's, so these Israeli's are now in their 40's or early 50's.
This was a light read, but interesting enough. The story revolves around Ruth, who is divorced and raising a daughter. She teaches sex ed at the local high school. Unfortunately, the local community is infiltrated by a new church that is evangelical and is promoting prayer at public events (like kids' soccer games) and abstinence education in sex ed classes. The characters from the church were so annoying. If I have a hot button, it's people pushing their religion on other people and in public places. Another main character is Tim, who is a recovering addict and Ruth's daughter's soccer coach. He is also a member in the evangelical church. Clearly, conflict happens. I was satisfied with the way the author handled the situations and resolved the issues.
I took a course from the author in which we used this book along with other materials to understand our own abilities when dealing with adversity and best practices when under stress. I found the concept of the AQ fascinating and have continued to find the things I learned very useful years after.
This book is highly readable, a great resource for someone who wants a detailed and accurate account of Jewish history in a book that is not going to put them to sleep. The author tells the story in a way that is very knowledgeable but not dull.
Recommended for: readers who love beautiful prose
Read from February 12 to 22, 2013
Susan Sontag, in a 2000 essay in the Times Literary Supplement, asked whether literary greatness [was] still possible. She concluded that one of the few answers available to English-language readers is the work of W. G. Sebald.
Sebald himself sometimes described his work as documentary fiction, which truly makes sense to me -- the term captures the style of prose in which Sebald so beautifully integrates apparently inharmonious elements. "Austerlitz" is a hybrid of factual and heavily-detailed documentary, actual discussion and daily activity, travelogue, and fanciful thought. I found the book at times too dense for reading (when I was tired) and also at times compelling and intensely thought-provoking. The story itself, about the life of a man who was transported away from his family at the age of four by kindertransport train from Prague to Wales, was intriguing, appalling, suspenseful, heartbreaking. I was fascinated also by the style of prose -- the widely ranging thoughts, the imagery, the long run-on sentences, and the incorporation of photos. Since reading this book, published just around the time of the author's untimely death in an auto accident 12 years ago, I can see influences in other books I have read that were published later, such as in the wonderful book by Jonathan Safran Foer, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". I found an interesting description in the NY Times article by Mark O'Connell of Sebald's style of writing: "Reading him is a wonderfully disorienting experience, not least because of the odd, invigorating uncertainty as to what it is, precisely, we are reading. His books occupy an unsettled, disputed territory on the border of fiction and fact, and this generic ambivalence is mirrored in the protean movements of his prose. Often what is on the page, the writing itself, gives the impression of being only the faint, flickering shadow of its actual referent. What Sebald seems to be writing about, in other words, is frequently not what he wants us to be thinking about." I was never 100% sure what I was reading about in "Austerlitz", and yet I always had the sense that it was important and would explain itself in time or if I considered its meaning long enough.
Sebald was born in Germany at the very end of WWII, and so grew up in the chaotic aftermath in which the adults did not want to talk at all about the war or their role in in. Sebald wrote about the recent history of Germany in an indirect way, as if confronting it head-on was too horrible or even possibly because it made it seem less horrible, that we couldn't grasp the enormity of the immorality of what happened. Instead, he approached the Holocaust obliquely, from a different geometric plane. He attempted to help us to understand what happened in the Holocaust by showing us how much we cannot understand it. Have you ever tried looking at something out of the corner of your eye to see what it really looks like? That's what happens in Sebald's "Austerlitz".
This is fictional account based on the true story of Japanese citizens interned at camps during WWII as if they were not loyal to the USA after the Pearl Harbor attack. It is not a happy story in all ways, but there were some positive things that show the endurance and perseverance of humans under tough conditions. The Japanese-Americans, adults and kids, set up baseball fields and teams and kept themselves busy and entertained playing baseball. It is a great way to teach kids about this time in history.
The author's parents were sent to the Minidoka camp in Idaho.
This was a really funny and action-packed story. The author makes it easy to visualize the beautiful and lonely terrain in the far reaches of Alaska. Kate Shugak is a terrific protagonist. She is smart, independent, and super tough. I read this book first even though it was #7 in the series, and had no trouble getting right into the characters and story. Now I'm reading Book #1 and will work my way through the series.