Fiction Aleksandar Tisma Kapo

ISBN 13: 9780151466931

Kapo

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9780151466931: Kapo

--a Jewish prisoner who served as a guard to save his life--recounts the horrors of the concentration camp and his forty-year struggle with his role in the camps. National ad/promo. Tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Originally published in 1987 and therefore predating the fragmentation of Yugoslavia and subsequent civil war: a brooding, curiously prescient saga from journalist and novelist Tima (The Use of Man, 1988) of a Holocaust survivor--a dreaded Kapo in Auschwitz, still living in mortal terror of exposure decades after coming home. Lamian, now a slovenly old man, is also a loner with a lifetime of keeping a low profile, thanks to his bestial activities as a guard under the watchful eye of the Nazis. Not overly fond of killing fellow Jews, he nevertheless found a reward in his position above and beyond that of mere survival. With the approval of the camp commandant, he brought a series of female prisoners into a secret corner of the toolshed, there to bait them with morsels of food in exchange for sex until he wearied of them and left them to their fate. Years later, learning by chance that one of his favorites, Helena Lifka, was not a foreigner but a Yugoslavian Jew like himself, his ever-present paranoia reaches a fever pitch, leaving him no rest until he tracks her down. With his physical health deteriorating and his grip on reality diminishing until he can do nothing without being reminded of his unforgivable past, Lamian finds her; after a night with a prostitute in which he does nothing but observe her sleeping, he decides to reveal himself to Helena, only to learn that he has mistaken her cousin for her, and that she died several months before. A probing, exceptional study of a man as both victim and tormentor, and more--Lamian's coldblooded yet fevered attitude reflects many of the same barbaric impulses now tearing Tima's country apart. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Yugoslavian-born Tisma's ( The Use of Man ) fourth novel is a powerful--if highly partisan--exploration of Croat and Nazi atrocities and of the exceptional crimes of one unexceptional man. During WW II, Vilko Lamian, a baptized, assimilated Jew, survived as a Kapo (a concentration camp prisoner who served as a guard) first in the Jasenovac concentration camp and later in Auschwitz, where his crimes included participating in the mass execution of Serbian women and children. In the mid-'80s when the novel opens, Lamian is an anonymous elderly civil servant living in a Bosnian town and plagued by psychosomatic illness and a terror that his past will be exposed. While glancing through a newspaper, he comes across the name of Helena Lifka, a Jewish woman he raped in Auschwitz. Lamian tries to find Lifka, hoping that she might forgive him and put his demons to rest. Tisma segues between Lamian's past--a series of small and large betrayals at Auschwitz and Jasenovac that preserved his body while poisoning his soul--and his present search. That search maintains the novel's high tension, and Lamian's recollections and contemptuous assessments of his Croatian contemporaries, while provocative and politically shaded, serve to shed light on the background of present-day hatreds.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Aleksandar Tisma
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