Sunday, December 27, 2020

Review: The Memory Monster

The Memory Monster The Memory Monster by Yishai Sarid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a difficult read for me and I'm not sure I quite understand what the author wants the reader to take with them. The narrator is a historian specializing on the Holocaust, and throughout the book gives tours of several camps to school groups and tourists, all of whom hold varying degrees of reverence, knowledge, and interest in the many Jewish people who were killed there. I don't know if the narrator lacks the ability to communicate the horror when he is present with it every day, or if his deep knowledge of the details accidentally comes across as being impressed, but there is definitely something disconcerting or uncomfortable in how he communicates with others. Sometimes it is his anger in how others want to believe it didn't happen, to move on, to capitalize on the horrors. All the while his family is back in Israel, where his son is bullied at school. Memory, memorial...

What isn't addressed of course, is the fact that the author is an Israeli, son of a prominent politician, who served in the Israeli army and worked for the government as a DA and was educated by some of the United States' top schools of government...yet the narrator says nothing about the memory monster of another people's displaced homeland, which to me is inherit and circles back to the narrator's musings on power and victory, whether or not this was his intention.

This is translated from the Hebrew by Yardenne Greenspan and is from Restless Books - a publisher I subscribe to precisely because they pull me out of my comfort zone with every read. I would check out a few more reviews because a few people are better able to comment on how this issue manifests in modern Israel and amongst groups of Jewish people worldwide.

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