The Book of Blam

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Harcourt Brace, 1998 - Fiction - 226 pages
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The war is over. Miroslav Blam walks along the former Jew Street, and he remembers. He remembers Aaron Grun, the hunchbacked watchmaker; and Eduard Fiker, a lamp merchant; and Jakob Mentele, a stove fitter, and Arthur Spitzer, a grocer, who played amateur soccer and had non-Jewish friends; and Sandor Vertes, a lawyer who was a communist. All dead. As are his younger sister and his best friend, a Serb, both of whom joined the resistance movement; and his mother and father in the infamous Novi Sad raid in January 1942 - when the Hungarian Arrow Cross executed 1,400 Jews and Serbs on the banks of the Danube and tossed them into the water. Blam lives. He does not follow the woman who loves him across the border to Italy, to relative safety. He stays instead with a wife who repeatedly betrays him, bringing up a daughter he knows to have been fathered by the collaborator who both seduced his mother and saved his, Blam's, life. After the war, he seeks no revenge, no retribution. Life of a piece, but only half a life - made all the more agonizing by the clarity with which he sees the events around him. In this powerful, masterfully crafted work. Tisma has as much to say about how we live our lives in extraordinary circumstances as about the human condition.

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The book of Blam

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Miroslav Blam is a man living a lie, an inert observer equally terrified of life and death. Walking through Novi Sad, his native home in Yugoslavia, he vividly recalls the people who once shared the ... Read full review


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About the author (1998)

ALEKSANDAR TISMA was born in 1924 in Vojvodina, Yugoslavia, to a Serbian father and a Hungarian mother. He experienced the Holocaust in his native town of Novi Sad. After the war he worked as a journalist in Novi Sad and Belgrade, and later became an editor, writer, and translator. He has written sixteen works of fiction, of which the last five--what he calls a pentateuch of novels and stories--have been devoted to the subject of the Holocaust.

Michael Henry Heim was born in New York on January 21, 1943. He received an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in Slavic languages from Harvard University. He was fluent in Czech, French, German, Italian, Russian and Serbian/Croatian and possessed a reading knowledge of six more languages. He became a professor of Slavic languages at the University California at Los Angeles in 1972 and served as chairman of the Slavic languages department from 1999 to 2003. He was known for his translations of works by Gunter Grass, Milan Kundera, Thomas Mann and Anton Chekhov. He received numerous awards for his work including the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize in 2005, the PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation in 2009, and the PEN Translation Prize in 2010. He died from complications of melanoma on September 29, 2012 at the age of 69.

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