The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Heather Morris, Echo)
This novel is based on an incredible true story of resilience, loss and survival—the result of years of interviews between Heather Morris and Holocaust survivor Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of the charming, dapper and Jewish Lale, who survives at Auschwitz by becoming the tattooist—tetovierer—and permanently marking his fellow prisoners with their numbers. One day, as he is inking 34902 onto a young woman’s arm, he looks up and falls in love with her. It is his determination to live a life beyond the concentration camps with this young woman, Gita, that sustains him through many horrific years. Though Lale’s survival and his enduring love for Gita is a triumphant and incredible tale, this novelised version—through no fault of Lale’s—falls somewhat flat. The prose is unimaginative and hardly transporting for the reader, and it lacks depth. Morris shares details about the historical research and interview scene-setting at the end, and they raise some fascinating questions about survivor guilt and complicity, but these issues are not interrogated in a meaningful way. The Tattooist of Auschwitz could have been better told, but it is a tale of love and triumph over the most hideous of circumstances that will appeal to readers of historical fiction and inspiring true stories.
Portia Lindsay is the general manager of the Mudgee Readers’ Festival