Pradelski debuts with a novel that makes flesh and blood of the Jewish citizens of pre–World War II Bedzin, Silesia
The novel opens in the present day as Tsippy Silberberg decides to fly to Tel Aviv to collect an odd inheritance: An aunt has left her silverware stored in a worn suitcase. Tsippy’s life is fractured. A disturbing childhood haunts her, and now she feels compulsion to eat only food in its frozen state. She’s a curious girl, though, and wants to marry. Perhaps, she thinks, there’s a suitable husband to be found in Israel, and so she flies there. Pradelski slowly reveals Tsippy as the narrative unfolds, but the eponymous Bella Kugelman arrives as a powerful, original character, a woman who witnessed all that disappeared beneath Nazi nihilism. As Tsippy arrives at her hotel, she finds Bella waiting, seeking someone to listen to the stories of the past, of the town of Bedzin and its passionate, vibrant people. Says Bella: "Don’t run away. I have to talk to you or else my town will die." Among those remembered is sly Gonna, escaping to Palestine only days before the Nazi invasion, forever pursued by guilt over all those left behind to die. There is allegorical treasure to be found in Bella’s remembrance of the people of Bedzin and of life haunted by all that was lost.
A melancholy yet life-affirming story from the ashes of the Holocaust.