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Emil and Karl
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*Starred Review* Emil and Karl may be "one of the first books about the Holocaust for any age and in any language." So says Jeffrey Shandler, professor of Yiddish Literature and Holocaust Studies at Rutgers University, who has translated the book into English for the first time. The novel, written for children, was published in Yiddish in New York, appearing in February 1940. Its author, a Jewish immigrant from Poland who had written two adult novels, was part of a dynamic Yiddish-speaking community in New York. On a visit home to Poland in 1934, he witnessed growing discrimination against Jews, and he wanted American Jewish children to know about it. Now, long after, translator Shandler fills in what was happening when the book was first published. World War II had begun in 1939, but the U.S. was not yet part of it; Germany had invaded Austria; Jews were viciously persecuted and deported to concentration camps. But even Glatshteyn could not foresee the death camps and genocide that were coming. Why has his novel never been translated before. Beyond the amazing publication history, it's much more than a dutiful read. It's a clear, powerful novel that will bring today's readers very close to what it was like to be a child under Nazi occupation.

Told in the third-person from the alternating viewpoints of two friends in Vienna-Emil, who is Jewish, and Karl, who is not-the story begins with the classic nightmare scenario. Karl watches the Nazis drag his mother away; they punch him in the stomach and warn him that they will be back for him. He remembers when his Socialist father was shot dead. Karl tries to find shelter with his Jewish school friend, Emil, but after Nazis shoot Emil's father, the two boys are left on their own. They find kindness and shelter with a neighbour, with a brave member of the Underground, and even with a police supervisor; but they also find betrayal and vicious cruelty. They witness the destruction of Jewish stores, and, while being taunted by mobs, they are forced to scrub the city pavements with their hands. In an unforgettable ending, the two friends crowd onto trains, and they are separated. Will they be transported to a safe country or to concentration camps.

The fast-moving prose is stark and immediate. Glatshteyn was, of course, writing about what was happening to children in his time; his story was not historical fiction then. At times, the story reads like an adventure, but the harsh reality is always there, neither sensational nor sentimental. The translation, 65 years after the novel's original publication, is nothing short of haunting.

Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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About the Author

Born in Lublin, Poland, Yankev Glatshteyn (1896-1971) was one of the major figures in the burgeoning Yiddish literary scene in New York City during the first half of the last century. Jeffrey Shandler (translator) is an associate professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. He is the author of While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust and editor of Awakening Lives: Autobiographies of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust, among other books. He lives in New York City.

Reviews

"This important book...gives a chilling portrait of a world descending into madness as experienced by two innocent children. The excellent translation effectively conveys the helplessness of the characters." --School Library Journal, Starred Review "It's a clear, powerful novel that will bring today's readers very close to what it was like to be a child under Nazi occupation. . . . The fast-moving prose is stark and immediate. . . . The translation, sixty-five years after the novel's original publication, is nothing short of haunting." --Booklist, Starred Review "Like 'The Diary of Anne Frank, ' Emil and Karl will stir adults, as well as the book's intended audience." --The New York Times "Emil and Karl defies categorization. For a moment I feel as if I am in Vienna in 1940, that I am standing beside the author, watching the impossible unfold. I share his disbelief, his mute acceptance of a world turned upside down. The experience is more immediate than mere fiction, more memorable and more frightening." --Meg Rosoff, author of How I Live Now This important book...gives a chilling portrait of a world descending into madness as experienced by two innocent children. The excellent translation effectively conveys the helplessness of the characters. School Library Journal, Starred Review It's a clear, powerful novel that will bring today's readers very close to what it was like to be a child under Nazi occupation. . . . The fast-moving prose is stark and immediate. . . . The translation, sixty-five years after the novel's original publication, is nothing short of haunting. Booklist, Starred Review Like The Diary of Anne Frank, ' Emil and Karl will stir adults, as well as the book's intended audience. The New York Times Emil and Karl defies categorization. For a moment I feel as if I am in Vienna in 1940, that I am standing beside the author, watching the impossible unfold. I share his disbelief, his mute acceptance of a world turned upside down. The experience is more immediate than mere fiction, more memorable and more frightening. Meg Rosoff, author of How I Live Now " This important book...gives a chilling portrait of a world descending into madness as experienced by two innocent children. The excellent translation effectively conveys the helplessness of the characters. "School Library Journal, Starred Review" It's a clear, powerful novel that will bring today's readers very close to what it was like to be a child under Nazi occupation. . . . The fast-moving prose is stark and immediate. . . . The translation, sixty-five years after the novel's original publication, is nothing short of haunting. "Booklist, Starred Review" Like The Diary of Anne Frank, ' "Emil and Karl "will stir adults, as well as the book's intended audience. "The New York Times" "Emil and Karl" defies categorization. For a moment I feel as if I am in Vienna in 1940, that I am standing beside the author, watching the impossible unfold. I share his disbelief, his mute acceptance of a world turned upside down. The experience is more immediate than mere fiction, more memorable and more frightening. "Meg Rosoff, author of How I Live Now"" "This important book...gives a chilling portrait of a world descending into madness as experienced by two innocent children. The excellent translation effectively conveys the helplessness of the characters."--"School Library Journal", Starred Review "It's a clear, powerful novel that will bring today's readers very close to what it was like to be a child under Nazi occupation. . . . The fast-moving prose is stark and immediate. . . . The translation, sixty-five years after the novel's original publication, is nothing short of haunting."--"Booklist", Starred Review "Like 'The Diary of Anne Frank, ' "Emil and Karl "will stir adults, as well as the book's intended audience."--"The New York Times" ""Emil and Karl" defies categorization. For a moment I feel as if I am in Vienna in 1940, that I am standing beside the author, watching the impossible unfold. I share his disbelief, his mute acceptance of a world turned upside down. The experience is more immediate than mere fiction, more memorable and more frightening."--Meg Rosoff, author of "How I Live Now" "This important book...gives a chilling portrait of a world descending into madness as experienced by two innocent children. The excellent translation effectively conveys the helplessness of the characters."-"School Library Journal," Starred Review "It's a clear, powerful novel that will bring today's readers very close to what it was like to be a child under Nazi occupation. . . . The fast-moving prose is stark and immediate. . . . The translation, sixty-five years after the novel's original publication, is nothing short of haunting."-"Booklist," Starred Review "Like 'The Diary of Anne Frank,' "Emil and Karl "will stir adults, as well as the book's intended audience."-"The New York Times" ""Emil and Karl" defies categorization. For a moment I feel as if I am in Vienna in 1940, that I am standing beside the author, watching the impossible unfold. I shar

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