Publication Info: Published September 4, 2018 by Harper Paperbacks. I read the paperback. Other editions available.
Summary: In 1942, Lale Sokolov is transported by train to Auschwitz concentration camp with thousands of other people in cattle cars. He is forced to abandon his personal belongings, is shaved, tattooed and shoved into overcrowded barracks. Hungry and weak from thirst, he and the men stumble weakly from their bunks the following morning. They discover two of their block-mates are already dead.
Lale is determined to survive this place. His wits, innate charm and ability to speak several languages are valuable skills in this polyglot cesspool. His language skills get noticed by a German officer. Lale finds himself assigned the job of Tattooist, marking numbers on the arms of incoming victims. He hates his job, but with it comes privilege. He is given more freedom and additional rations, both valuable commodities in the survival game.
In his first days as tattooist, as he holds the arm of a young woman, he looks into her eyes to give her a few seconds of humanity and falls in love. From that moment, Lale’s goal is for both of them to survive and have a life beyond Auschwitz.
Comments: I’ve read other novels about the WWII German atrocities and concentration camps, but none quite so poignant as The Tattoist of Auschwitz, as it is based on the true story of Lale Sokolov. The book frankly left me a bit at a loss for words as I struggle to write this. As I read of thousands, MILLIONS of people starved, shot and gassed for just being different, I shook my head at the horror. And I think of what is happening in the world today, as people forget — and even deny the existence of — the past.
I picked this book up after learning that a sequel is soon to be published. Entitled, Cilka’s Journey, it is based on the life and experiences of another woman Lale met at Auschwitz.
Very highly recommended for readers of Historical Fiction and General Fiction.
My Rating: 5 STARS