by Cynthia Ozick
The Shawl opens with an eight page short story about a woman named Rosa who witnesses the killing of her child in a concentration camp. The novella which follows finds Rosa thirty years later in Florida still desperately keeping her daughter alive in her mind while her own life deteriorates.
In her depression, Rosa is an unreliable narrator causing the reader to call into question her version of events, intensifying her grief and denial. Rosa's antagonistic relationship with her niece, who had also been in the camp, provides what may be the truth about the past, but we never really know. In the end, it may be that it doesn't matter, because the future is the only thing Rosa has the power to change.
At only 70 pages, this would be a perfect Read-A-Thon book. While the premise sounds and is somber, the beauty of Cynthia Ozick's writing and the surrender to hope with which the novella ends make it all up to the reader. I had never heard of this author and just happened to find The Shawl while I was looking for books to fulfill the War Through The Generation Challenge. I finished the challenge before I got to it, but I'm most pleased that I went ahead with this read anyway. I will be on the lookout for some more of Ozick's short stories in the hope that she has more of this high caliber for me to discover!
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!