DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT by Arnost Lustig

DIAMONDS OF THE NIGHT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another in a series of story collections based on the Holocaust (Night and Hope, p. 376): concentration camps, burning villages, and--in the last two tales--the wake of the defeated German army. Lustig's most successful characters are children--starving, orphaned, fragile as ancient skulls, drenched in horrors. A boy tries to trade his dead father's trousers, and then gold from the corpse's teeth, for half a lemon to save his dying sister; another survives a day of atrocity to dream at last of ""a land of warmth and sun""; and a young killer who has blown up German tanks with a fire bomb arranges for the merciful suicide of his grandfather before he is himself reduced to ashes. After ""liberation,"" camp survivors witness a new kind of ""justice"": a child who has experienced unspeakable atrocities at first exults in the killing of Germans--a river filled with bodies, rags, blood, and oil--but then decides to examine the meaning of the ""right"" and then the ""duty"" of killing. In his stark narrative and spare dialogue--as skeletal as the starved bodies of the speakers--Lustig sustains the reality of people scoured by obscene torture and loss, discovering islands of sanity in nightmare: ""Hope,"" thinks a doomed boy, ""can be a damned messy business. . . . Hopelessness puts a stone in your hand, at least, if not a dagger or a bomb.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1977
Publisher: Inscape