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February 2017 Debut of the Month.
A very special, rather beautiful, and truly unforgettable novel, this is a story that has become a part of me, and is now lodged in my soul. 13 year old twins, Pearl and Stasha are star ‘attractions’ at Mengele's Zoo. In the midst of the nightmare of Auschwitz, they witness the very worst and best of humanity in conditions that are almost impossible to comprehend. Each girl tells their own story, each child’s voice, views from a position of innocence and experience, a world of confusion, horror, and love. While this is deeply unsettling, uncomfortable, and my brain often wanted to skirt some of the searing truths, it is also a touching, stunning read. Affinity Konar writes with an exquisite hand, sparks of affection and passion flame through the darkness. ‘Mischling’ darts through thoughts like a dream of a memory, waking them to a harrowing age old horror, yet also displaying the true wonder of humanity, the love our hearts can hold. ~ Liz Robinson
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.
- Susan Mooney - 'Brilliantly written.'
- Dawn Vanstone - 'This book will stay with me for a long time, it was beautifully crafted and does justice to the atrocities that occurred during that period of history particularly at Auschwitz.'
- Sarah Webb - 'It’s about love and life, vengeance and the stories we tell ourselves to survive. It is a tough read, but very worthwhile.'
- Phylippa Smithson - 'Mischling is by far the toughest book I have ever read. When the basis of the ‘story’ focuses on the Angel of Death, Auschwitz and children, could it be anything but?'
- Sarah Musk - 'A chilling, powerful book. It is beautifully written but the subject matter is very dark. It should be read by everyone.'
- Alison Battye - 'This book deals unflinchingly with the horrors of Auschwitz. It is a relentlessly painful read, but the girls' love for one another and their fierce imagination somehow carries you through.'
- Kathryn Eastman - 'Mischling is heartrending and devastating, an effect only heightened by the dream-like quality given to it by Affinity Konar's beautiful prose, imagery and description more reminiscent of fairy tales.'
- Rosie Watch - 'An incredibly gripping and unusual story about a very well-known event in history.'
- Alan Brown - 'Among words that make you shudder, a novel of hope from despair...Only by reading novels like this can anyone develop a quiet understanding of adversity.'
- Sue Packer - 'I suspect this book might divide opinion somewhat. It has a slight fairy tale quality about it – the prose is hauntingly beautiful which contradicts jarringly with the subject matter.'
- Suzanne Beney - 'Mischling is one of those books that will change your outlook on life, and although difficult at times to read, it's certainly worth getting to the end.'
Win tickets to the Borders Book Festival!
We have 4 tickets (2 pairs) to give away to one lucky winner to attend two Walter Scott Prize events taking place at the Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival on Saturday 17 June 2017. One pair of tickets is for a panel event with shortlisted authors, and the other is for the Prize event in which the winner is announced and presented. Click here to find out more about the Borders Book Festival.
Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize cannot be exchanged for cash and does not include transport or accommodation. Draw closes on 2 May 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly from all entrants and will be notified by 14 May 2017.
Mischling by Affinity Konar
It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain. That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks - a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin - travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.
'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
About the Author
Publication date2nd February 2017
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CategoriesModern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
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