Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada

Here is a summary of The Auschwitz Violin from the Goodreads website:

At the concentration camp of Auschwitz, the conditions are infrahuman and abuses, punishments and deaths are common occurences among prisoners such as Daniel, a jewish lute maker from Crakow, who manages to survive the living hell working as a carpenter. Until one day the camp commander, a classical music lover, discovers the prisoner's skills and decides to put him to the test: he will have to make a violin that sounds to perfection. Daniel starts work straight away without the slightest idea of what his punishment will be if he doesn't succeed.

My Review:
This short novel takes us into the life of a Jewish prisoner of a concentration camp over just a short period of time.  We are introduced to Daniel, whose profession was building violins before becoming imprisoned.

Although Daniel is a carpenter at the work camp, he somehow ends up being at the right place at the right time when a violin needs repairs at a dinner the officials are attending.  At this party Daniel meets Bronislaw who happens to be a very talented violin player.  How could Bronislaw know that later Daniel's life would be in his hands?

When the commander of the work camp discovers that Daniel is a talented violin maker he gives Daniel the task of creating a superior violin.  Throughout this novel as there is killing, mutilation, and starvation within the camp, Daniel finds a way to survive by immersing all of his energy and passion into the creation of this violin.  Every step of the way Daniel worries that one wrong move will be the end of his existence.

I enjoyed this story but I must admit that I was confused at times, and I wonder if this could possibly have something to do with how it was translated.  This story was obviously about how Daniel survived while he was at the work camp, although it began and ended with Bronislaw, the violin player.  This book also contained some documents at the beginning of a few chapters that were very eye opening and sad.  With just over a hundred pages this book was well worth the read with themes of survival, passion, music, and of course the Holocaust.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.


Anna said...

I've seen another review similar to yours about being confused, possibly due to the translation. Still, it's such a short book that I'd be willing to give it a try. I'll link to your review on War Through the Generations.

bermudaonion said...

This does sound really good - I think many people survived those camps because they had a skill their captors wanted or needed.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This one has been on my wish list - sounds like a compelling read.

Jenny Girl said...

Great review of a tough subject jo-jo. I think it was probably the translation that caused issues.

Mystica said...

It sounds a very compelling story to read.

The Bumbles said...

Having once been a violinist I would probably enjoy this. Such artisans they were to make these beautiful instruments. I imagine the contrast of beauty within horrific settings is disturbing. Thanks for the introduction.