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Dita Saxova is an eighteen-year-old concentration camp survivor trying to start a new life in postwar Prague. Living in a special hostel for orphans from the camps, too old to be cared for parentally, too young to be fully adult, too soaked in reality to harbor many illusions, Dita struggles to reconcile struggles to reconcile her unfathomable past with her enigmatic future. First published in Czech in 1962, then in English in 1979, Dita Saxova confirms Arnost Lustig's place as one of the masterful storytellers of the Holocaust period.
From Library Journal
Lustig's novel won the National Jewish Book Award upon its 1979 debut. The semiautobiographical tale relates the story of a young Czechoslovakian woman trying to put her life back together after surviving the Holocaust. A "touching and painful story" ( LJ 7/79) for foreign collections.
just by living. Bad? Explic itly good. And she knew that if she thought of anyone before she fell asleep that night, it would be D.E. M Dita turned toward the door and opened it abruptly. She ■ H and Tonitschka saw only Linda’s back. “That’s the kind of thing that makes you feel like murdering,” she said. “If you had a life of your own, maybe you wouldn’t hang around outside my door.” Linda disappeared. “Eavesdroppers hear the truth about themselves,” said Tonitschka. “She was born at 3:30
in the dark while the air raids destroyed Dresden and the power station?” “Some of the girls produced tolerable perfumes and colognes. If you didn’t know what they were made of, it wouldn’t occur to you. The stuff was for women in the German homeland. The sol diers and officers didn’t care. One Feldwebel used to stand at the entrance to the women’s showers and taunt the girls who looked shy. I can remember two girls, twins, who were used by the doctor for experiments on comparative reflexes,
repeating the words over and over again, like when you say prayers. Occasionally somebody would shout at them to shut up and not prevent the others from getting a few hours of sleep. One night, in fact, one of the women hit them because that same 138 evening the German wardress had beaten her. ‘My child,’ the mother said once, ‘children and fools speak the truth.’ “Then came the selection on Monday. The girl assured her mother that there was nothing to be afraid of, that she would go with her,
eighteen once.” She refrained from saying that Doris Levit boasted about what she had gotten in return for it. Dinner always ranked lowest. Instead, Dita added: “Last time Linda allowed Andy to sleep with her she pinched the margarine carton he keeps his out-of-season coats in.” “If you’re hungry,” said D.E., “you can say it right out.” He pre ferred to avoid discussing his half sister. She had no place in his scheme of things, and he did not want to be reminded of her by Dita. “I’m quite happy
It spoiled all those glamorous Swiss advertisements for her. She skipped articles titled “Warning against Pollution” and “Before the Day of Reconciliation” and a claim by Rabbi Jakov that one hour of blessedness on this earth was more than the whole of this world and that one hour of atonement and good deeds was worth more than a whole life. Further on, someone had started a legal goose chase about whether an old man from Varnsdorf, who spent the war years in England, had any right to his factory