Much More Than a Historical Novel

FAR AWAY FROM WHERE?
Mazo Publishers, 2011
by Yehiel Grenimann

It is probably impossible to imagine ourselves in the place of the Jewish survivors of World War II and the Holocaust immediately after the war, but this is exactly the task that Yehiel Grenimann, the son of survivors, set for himself. Yanosh and Eva, his central characters, were hidden on the Aryan side of Warsaw, thanks to their connection with the Polish nationalist underground. Yosef Borowski, known as Bora, the third major protagonist, was a partisan leader during the war. The novel begins with the entry of the Soviet army into Warsaw and ends with Yanosh and Eva’s imminent arrival in Australia, where, despite pressure from Zionist activists in the displaced persons camps, they have elected to go rather than risk illegal immigration to Palestine.

Unlike a historical novel based on research and imaginative projection into the past, Far Away from Where? develops information the author received from his parents. It is an effort to understand them—not as individuals, since the protagonists are not meant to represent them, but as people who shared harrowing experiences and found the courage and strength to begin life again despite enormous losses.

Grenimann makes it clear that the Jews had to choose from among a very limited range of options after the war. Eva and Yanosh choose to start a family, and Eva’s pregnancy is a major element in the novel.

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Jeffrey M. Green’s translation of Until the Dawn’s Light by Aharon Appelfeld was recently published by Schocken Books in New York.
 

Source Citation

Green, Jeffrey M. 2012. Much More than a Historical Novel. Tikkun 27(3): 49.

tags: Books, Culture, Reviews   
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