SEE UNDER: LOVE by David Grossman
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Grossman (the best-selling The Yellow Wind, 1988, nonfiction about the Israeli/Palestinian situation) now offers a phantasmagoric novel about one man's agonizing attempt to come to terms with the Holocaust--a tale that successfully merges history, personal mythology, and literary experiment. Momik, the precocious only child of Holocaust survivors, is brought up in Israel in a traumatized family that sweeps the Holocaust under the rug--until Grandfather Anshel (once a children's writer known as ""Scheherazade"") arrives in 1959. Momik then begins a secret, complex investigation into the mythical place Over There, inhabited by the Nazi Beast--an investigation, both fantastical and grounded in obsessive research, that becomes his life. In successive sections here, he imagines the death and life of the writer Bruno Schulz (who becomes a participant in Momik's own life); re-creates the life of Anshel (who stays alive in a concentration camp by telling stories about ""children of the heart"" to Neigel, the camp commandant--eventually winning the broken commandant's faith); and encyclopedically dissects both the life of Karik (Anshel's fictional hero) and the relationship (complex, at times symbiotic) between Anshel and Neigel. As this involuted chronicle unfolds, there are stories-within-stories and meta-fictional comments by Momik (who is, of course, a writer re-creating the past according to his own needs). Anshel's fiction finally explains Momik's life: the book ends with a prayer that ""man might live in this world from birth to death and know nothing of war."" A tour de force: difficult, elusive, circular, and a triumph.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0312420692
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Girous