I was thrilled to have been included in this blog tour for Antonio Iturbe’s novel ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz’, as always, I’d like to thank the fantastic organiser of this tour Tracy, for the opportunity to spread the book love especially for this sobering read, as well as Ebury publishing for the gifted paperback to read in preparation of this tour. I’ve always been drawn to these type of reads, whether they’re historical fiction or non – fiction because I think the events included in this book and books about the same subject should never be forgotten.
The Librarian of Auschwitz is due to be published in all reading formats on the 4th of April, although you can purchase the hardback now from here!
“‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.
But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…”
I’m not exactly sure where to start with this novel, people take books and reading for granted, but what if getting caught with a book, enjoying the literary pleasure of a book could get you killed? Imagine being deprived of the imaginary worlds, especially when you’re trapped in a living hell. This is exactly what was expected of Dita and the other prisoners of Auschwitz, there was to be no schools, only activities to help distract the children of Block 31 while their parents worked. There were stories told from the minds of the older generations, they called this the ‘living library’ but it wasn’t enough. I admired the strength and courage of Dita and the individual’s who helped her sneak books into Auschwitz, even when threatened with death and Dr Josef Mengele on her back. She knew the importance of books, she loved book and repaired them so that everyone would get the opportunity to enjoy the eight books smuggled in. Dita is my heroine!
It was documented at the beginning of the book that the story was not completely non – fiction, it was based on the story of Dita Kraus, it WASN’T the story of. This being said, The Librarian of Auschwitz is a fully believable novel that I would categorise under the historical fiction genre, but it doesn’t make it any less real and heart-breaking, yet Dita comes across as a kick ass protagonist. I really enjoyed the flashbacks, especially because we get an insight into Dita fall in love with reading. I loved that the first adult book that her mother allowed her to read was based in South Wales. I am really glad that Dita and Antonio were able to meet and produce this story of strength, courage and bravery. I think the attention to detail is there which gives tremendous perspective to life for Jewish prisoners at that time, such as bunking and smuggling etc.
I’ve read a few books concerning events in Auschwitz, I know this book has sprinklings of fiction but I wasn’t left any less gobsmacked. I did get a little confused with the shift in point of view but apart from that I found it a more than worthy read that kept me hooked and as I said, these types of books should be read and events remembered.
Thank-you again Tracy for having me involved in the tour and Ebury Press for the gifted copy to read and review. As always, I am so thankful to have the opportunities to read and rave about these books. Recommended by me!