Jane Fonda calls for public attention to sexual violence during the Holocaust, read here. The Oscar-winning actress read from And the Rat Laughed at a recent symposium. To watch the symposium see http://sfi.usc.edu/jane_fonda.php It starts about 10 minutes into the video.
And the Rat Laughed is a unique book. Unlike other Holocaust-related books that focus on the historical horrific events, this novel deals with the act of remembering them. It resembles a relay race in which the characters transfer memory from one another, while traveling on the axis of time.
The book begins in the last day of 1999, when a survivor Grandmother in Tel Aviv shares her tragic life story as a hidden child in a pit, with only a rat for company with her granddaughter. The day after – 2000 already – the granddaughter tells the legend of “Girl and Rat” to her teacher and in 2009 those who heard it through her classmates establish an internet website with poems. From now on this memory is spread all over the world and becomes a myth. In 2099 a future anthropologist discovers it and tries to uncover its mysterious roots. In her research, she reveals the first man who created this myth in the past. Father Stanislaw, a Catholic priest, saved that little Jewish girl (who later became the Grandmother in Tel Aviv) and returned her after the war to her Jewish people. In his personal journal he documented everything, to make sure the world will never forget. The chain of remembearers, therefore, moves from the present to the future and back to the past. The novel is written in 5 genres: story, legend, poems, science fiction and diary, creating a cycle of 150 years. And the Rat Laughed got acclaim for its use of unconventional and original literary devices and became a ground breaker for exploring the act of memory itself. How do we tell our painful story? Does it change while we recall it? How will our next recipient recall it in his own individual way? Is Art the only corridor to transfer emotional memory?
Now available as an e-book!
About the author:
Nava Semel (b. 1954 – d. 2 Dec 2017, Israel) held an MA in Art History and is an art critic. Semel has worked as a TV, radio and recording producer and as a journalist. She has written poetry, prose for children and adults, television scripts and opera libretti, in addition to translating plays. Semel has received several literary prizes, including the American National Jewish Book Award for children’s literature (1990), the Women Writers of the Mediterranean Award (1994), the Austrian Best Radio Drama Award (1996), the Israeli Prime Minister’s Award (1996) and Tel Aviv Woman of the Year in Literature Award (2007).
See also Paper Bride by Nava Semel, published by Hybrid Publishers.