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Mischling Hardcover – 2 Feb 2017

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Man Booker International Prize 2017
A Horse Walks Into a Bar has won the Man Booker International Prize 2017. Learn more
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (2 Feb. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1786490846
  • ISBN-13: 978-1786490841
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.2 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 245,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Mischling is a paradox. It's a beautiful novel about the most odious of crimes, it's a deeply-researched act of remembrance that somehow carries the lightness of a fairy tale, and it's a coming-of-age story about children who aren't allowed to come of age. If your soul can survive the journey, you'll be rewarded by one of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year -- Anthony Doerr, bestselling author of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE Affinity Konar is an astonishing and fearless writer, whose great gift to us is this book. With incantatory magic, she marches through the most nightmarish of landscapes, swinging her light -- Karen Russell, author of SWAMPLANDIA Affinity Konar's Mischling is a piercing novel written with chin-up virtuosity. The prose is dazzling, and the story of these twins is moving and searing, and as powerful as the best mythic stories of the masters of old -- Chigozie Obioma, author of THE FISHERMEN Affinity Konar's MISCHLING is a tale of courage, courageously told - spare and beautiful, riveting and heartrending... A case of extraordinary storytelling from first page to transcendent last -- David Wroblewski, author of THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE Konar has woven a masterful and poignant account of a pair of twin sisters who cannot be separated, even by the cruelest hand of fate. Her prose is mystical and delicately poetic, and she uses her manifold gifts to tell a deeply engaging story of fortitude and triumph -- Lucette Lagnado, author of CHILDREN OF THE FLAMES and THE MAN IN THE SHARKSKIN SUIT

Review

'Konar makes every sentence count; it's to her credit that the girls never come across as simply victims: they're flawed, memorable characters trying to stay alive. This is a brutally beautiful book.' (Publishers Weekly)

'Fiction of rare poignancy – and astonishing hope ... An unforgettable sojourn of the spirit.' (Booklist)

'The sheer beauty of the language in Mischling is one of the things that makes the book unlike most other Holocaust novels.' (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The late, great Leonard Cohen wrote the words I selected to form the title of this review. I can't think of words more appropriate to introduce this novel, which is an extraordinarily beautiful, harrowing and redemptive work of art.

There are those who have said, and continue to say, that to use The Holocaust as a backdrop for any form of art is immoral: that the very attempt is almost blasphemous, disrespectful towards the millions who suffered and died. And there are those who believe that a serious examination of the subject, in whatever form it takes, is not only a necessary undertaking, but also a valid and conscientious way in which to remember, and pay tribute to, the victims: those who died and those who survived. Both views, when sincerely held, are right: though I incline toward the latter view, I understand both. Each individual needs to decide for him / herself.

A famous quote, attributed to various sources, says that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In relation to periods of darkness and savagery, it implies that we must learn how and why such things happened, in order to ensure that they are not allowed to happen again. But when faced with The Holocaust, the enormity can overwhelm us. How can we even begin, seventy years later, to imagine how such an event occurred?

The truth is that we can't. Some of the greatest of modern historians and philosophers have devoted their entire careers to the question and have yet to reach a conclusion. The statistics are so huge as to be almost incomprehensible, almost meaningless. Only when the subject is reduced to a personal level can most brains (certainly mine) process the details of what The Holocaust actually meant.

And that is what Affinity Konar has done.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very difficult subject expertly written with characters who were believable and deep. Life persists through adversity and this novel illustrates that principle so well.
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Format: Hardcover
I would not say it is sad book, and I think the reason for that is that the twins never give up hope. It might come and go, but they never give up. The book shows the brutal reality that was, the worst of humankind and what evil is. But sad, well, obviously it is sad, people die, people are brutalised, families are torn apart, but the twins get you through it. Hope. Family.

Stasha and Pearl are twins, and arrive at Auschwitz, where Mengele likes to play with humans For a tiny better life they get experimented on. Stasha lives in her dreams and imagination and Pearl gets by by hoping. We meet others there at the Zoo, all experimented on. A Jewish doctor forced to help with the care. A Jewish man taking care of the boy's wing and trying to save as many as he can. We never see those other aspects, the crowded barracks, the gas chambers, the house where pretty women are taken. But the girls know they are there. They hear things. And life is brutal as it is where they are.

The other half of the book is when the Russians come and Stasha sets out to get revenge on the man who took her from her sister. While Pearl just disappeared.

The journey through Poland is hard too. Russians running around. Nazis running around. Cities bombed to nothing. Hunger, madness. But there is still hope.

Conclusion:
It was a good book, it had well-written prose and the story haunts you. Twins that are so close, so different, and just can not function without the other.

And we should never forget.
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Format: Hardcover
My colleague recommended this to me, and she was so moved by it, that I had high expectations picking up this book. Upon reading the first page however, I definitely felt like this would be a struggle for me to get through. The prose seemed overworked and a bit to "artsy". As if the author thought "I'll show them how good of a writer I am" and decided to use an entire page on something that could have been said with just a single paragraph.

I feel like she focused too much on the prose instead of trying to create an actual connection to these girls and the horrors they went through. As I reader I just felt disengaged, as I just couldn't connect with them. All the characters, except for Stasha, felt oddly flat. And that is ultimately disappointing - the subject matter is so raw, so gruesome, that you almost feel guilty as a reader for not forming an emotionel connection. And I blame this on the writing.

Also, I feel that the book doesn't bring anything new to light. Yes, Mengele was a sadistic psycopath, and yes, Auschwitz-Birkenau was a place beyond imaginable cruelty. But to me, actually watching the documentaries and hearing tales from the survivors made a far bigger impact on me than this book.

I can definitely see the potential in this book, and I can understand why many have been impressed by it. To me, it's just like the emperor without clothes. I know I might be in the minority here, but I suspect other readers might feel the same as I do, but feel guilty of giving a bad review considering the subject. Even though the book is based on fact, ultimately this is a work of fiction and should be reviewed as such. If you want to read a moving book about WW2 go for "But you did not come back" or "Atonement" instead.
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