Kapo by Aleksandar Tisma, Richard Williams |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble


by Aleksandar Tisma, Richard Williams

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Yugoslavian-born Tisma's ( The Use of Man ) fourth novel is a powerful--if highly partisan--exploration of Croat and Nazi atrocities and of the exceptional crimes of one unexceptional man. During WW II, Vilko Lamian, a baptized, assimilated Jew, survived as a Kapo (a concentration camp prisoner who served as a guard) first in the Jasenovac concentration camp and later in Auschwitz, where his crimes included participating in the mass execution of Serbian women and children. In the mid-'80s when the novel opens, Lamian is an anonymous elderly civil servant living in a Bosnian town and plagued by psychosomatic illness and a terror that his past will be exposed. While glancing through a newspaper, he comes across the name of Helena Lifka, a Jewish woman he raped in Auschwitz. Lamian tries to find Lifka, hoping that she might forgive him and put his demons to rest. Tisma segues between Lamian's past--a series of small and large betrayals at Auschwitz and Jasenovac that preserved his body while poisoning his soul--and his present search. That search maintains the novel's high tension, and Lamian's recollections and contemptuous assessments of his Croatian contemporaries, while provocative and politically shaded, serve to shed light on the background of present-day hatreds. (Sept.)
Doyle Quiggle
Lamian saved his own life at Auschwitz and Jasenovac by working as a Kapo--a prisoner employed as guard. But for his crimes (most of which corroded him, particularly the food-for-sex deals he forced on women), he loses his mind and soul and any hope of rejoining humanity. This relentless psychological examination of a Holocaust survivor paralyzes the reader with shocking honesty and reverberant social implications: Was Lamian prepared for his role as a KAPO before the war when forced to repress his Jewish identity? And because the setting is Yugoslavia, current issues eerily creep into the reading experience. A novel that demands witness, a frightening reminder. One feels Tisma had to write this.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.87(w) x 8.55(h) x 1.14(d)

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