In Her Father's Eyes: A Childhood Extinguished by the Holocaust

In Her Father's Eyes: A Childhood Extinguished by the Holocaust

In Her Father's Eyes: A Childhood Extinguished by the Holocaust

In Her Father's Eyes: A Childhood Extinguished by the Holocaust

Synopsis

A tale about Jewish life and a father's profound love for his only child. By bridging prewar and wartime periods, the book also provides a context for understanding the history from which the Holocaust emerged.

Excerpt

To understand why it is valuable to read about the life so painstakingly recorded in In Her Father’s Eyes, it is useful to begin not in the realm of factual history but in the world of fantastic fiction. in his 1983 short story “The Encyclopedia of the Dead,” the late Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš, whose father died in the Holocaust, imagines a massive encyclopedia, thousands of volumes long and housed in the dusty stacks of a Swedish library, that contains articles about people who have lived and died. the story’s narrator searches the encyclopedia and finds the entry about her father, who has recently died. Although it is only five or six pages long, the meticulously detailed essay documents the entirety of her father’s sixty-nine years. To the narrator’s surprise, no detail is too small for the encyclopedia. She reads of his childhood home, his teachers, his love of sledding and trout fishing, his first cigarette, his first encounter with his future wife—even of the cows that mooed in the barns of his childhood village. the concise, eloquently written text covers his entire existence. in its concluding lines, it even names the priest who administered last rites, lists all who attended the funeral, and reproduces the entire text of the newspaper obituary.

But Kiš’s marvelous encyclopedia does not have articles about everyone. It contains no entries about people who appear in any other encyclopedia. It features no politicians, generals, sports heroes, entertainers, or other famous or even semi-famous individuals. It concerns itself exclusively with those who were obscure and unknown when alive. Kiš’s narrator surmises, “It is the work of a religious organization or sect whose democratic program stresses an egalitarian vision of the world of the dead, a vision that is doubtless inspired by some biblical precept, and aims at redressing human injustices and g0093773

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