Posts From Author: auschwitz

The Lie of Remembrance: Philip Gourevitch on the Rwandan Genocide

We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda by Philip Gourevitch NY: Picador, 1999 [first published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1998]; 356pp This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. In the hundred days that followed the downing of President Juvénal Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994, at least eight hundred thousand people, mostly Tutsis, were killed in what the journalist and author Philip Gourevitch has called “the most efficient mass killing since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” (Rwanda is a country not much larger than Vermont; to put the numbers in perspective, the population of Vermont is less than seven hundred thousand.) Almost immediately, the genocide was followed by a colossal refugee crisis, as Hutus fearful of a Tutsi retaliation fled to Zaire (as it was then), Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. Disease killed thousands. Retributive violence was widespread. The wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo that stretched halfway through the first decade of this century were an indirect consequence of what happened in Rwanda in 1994. Next year Gourevitch will publish a follow-up to his landmark 1998 account of the genocide, We Wish To Inform […]
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Love in the Time of Genocide

The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014; 320pp …how did “a sleepy country of poets and dreamers,” and the most highly educated nation the earth had ever seen, how did it yield to such wild, such fantastic disgrace? What made its people, men and women, consent to having their souls raped — and raped by a eunuch (Grofaz: the virgin Priapus, the teetotal Dionysus, the vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex)? Where did it come from, the need for such a methodical, such a pedantic, and such a literal exploration of the bestial? These are the questions that orbit the singularity at the center of twentieth-century history. In his second Holocaust novel, The Zone of Interest, Martin Amis sketches a few possible answers while acknowledging — in a thoughtful afterword — that we nevertheless “know almost nothing about the why.” In Time’s Arrow (1991), his first foray into this particular zone of interest, the Holocaust is glimpsed obliquely — like the Medusa reflected in Perseus’s shield — through the lens of Amis’s formal fireworks. The action happens in reverse: people spring to life and are packed on trains that take them away from concentration camps; relationships begin with rows and end […]
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