Vignettes of hell: a valuable account of daily life under Hungarian fascism—banned for four decades even under Communist...

READ REVIEW

NINE SUITCASES

A MEMOIR

An affecting memoir of the Holocaust by a noted Hungarian author, with many an unusual twist.

Born in 1895, Zsolt had published ten novels and four plays by the time a right-wing government came to power in Hungary, the product of “folksy populists . . . who decried urban Western civilization and championed a chauvinistic system based on the alleged strength and purity of an unspoiled Magyar race rooted in the Hungarian countryside.” Regrettably, Zsolt was an urban Jew, and though he had served the emperor with distinction in WWI, he found himself a target. Because it was, at least superficially, a full partner with Nazi Germany, Hungary got to set its own rules, which did not include exterminating its Jews—at least at first. Zsolt was thus sent to the countryside, and then into Ukraine, as a laborer. “I was thoroughly trained in gravedigging out there,” he writes, waiting with his fellow prisoners to clean up after Hungarian soldiers, White Ukrainian commandos, and Nazi troops as they burned villages and gunned down the fleeing inhabitants, who “tumble all over the ground, into the glowing ashes.” Zsolt writes of the daily torments of the region’s Jews, who sensed that something worse was on the way but for the time being had to withstand the greedy scheming of neighbors outside the shtetls and ghettos and, as the author recounts it, the excesses of Nazi martinets and fascist petty officials; as one SS officer berates a young rabbi, in one memorable scene, a Hungarian police captain watches “with the expression of a pedantic official, who is not responsible for the matter in hand, but who doesn’t disapprove of what’s going on.” But the victim refuses to relent, and, as Zsolt writes, “It made no difference, but the rabbi won,” which sends the Nazi officer into a foul humor: “He felt as uncomfortable about looking his audience in the eye as an actor who feels everything has gone wrong that day.”

Vignettes of hell: a valuable account of daily life under Hungarian fascism—banned for four decades even under Communist rule.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2004

ISBN: 0-8052-4204-X

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Schocken

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more