THE MONDAY BOOK: Austria, Amnesia and the Holocaust ; the Memory Man Lisa Appignanesi Arcadia, Pounds 11.99/pounds 11.99 (Free P&p) from 0870 079 8897
Pascal, Julia, The Independent (London, England)
LISA APPIGNANESI has focused this novel on the character of Bruno Lind, an American, Polish-born neurologist who is invited to a conference on memory in Vienna. The visit awakens his childhood memories of flight from the Nazis and the murder of his family. Although the narrative starts in a return to Vienna, it crosses borders through 1940s' Polish territory. However, it's not the geography that haunts the story, but a search for missing daughters and fathers.
On his way to the Memory Conference, Bruno Lind undergoes a minor collapse in front of his childhood home in Vienna. This prompts his adopted black American daughter, Amelia, to fly over from the US. Amelia has converted to Judaism and longs to know more about her father's early life. She convinces Bruno to explore his memories of the Nazi occupation, which he has until now kept from her.
Trailing along with them is Irena, a middle-aged Polish Catholic journalist whose mother suffers from Alzheimer's. The trio travel from Vienna to Poland and the secret link between Lind and Irena's mother is ultimately revealed.
The novel starts as a neat idea, but the problem is that we are on familiar ground. Amnesia, repression and the loss of Holocaust history has been explored by many authors as real testimony. Eva Hoffman's Lost In Translation is one of the best-known of these memoirs and, more recently, Linda Grant's Remind Me Who I Am Again traced her mother's Alzheimer's disease in a suburban English context. …