John Auerbach The Owl and Other Stories

ISBN 13: 9781902881799

The Owl and Other Stories

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This is the first collection of John Auerbach's stories to appear in English. The stories drawn upon his years at sea, on a kibbutz in Israel, as an alienated man in America, survival of the war and the Holocaust.

PEN/UNISCO Prize 1993

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About the Author:

JOHN AUERBACH was born in Warsaw in 1922, and served as a soldier in the Polish army at the beginning of the Second World War. During the German occupation, he escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto and worked on German ships as a stoker under false identity. He was caught trying to escape to Sweden in a stolen boat, and was sent to the Stutthof concentration camp. After to the war, he went to Sweden and worked on Swedish ships. Here, he joined the Mossad Aliyah B and transported refugees to Israel for three years. He was captured by the British and was detained in a Cyprus camp for two years. On his release to Israel, he came to Kibbutz Sdot Yam, where he was a skipper of fishing boats.

After Officer’s Training in Acre, he served as a Chief Engineer in the Israeli Merchant Marines for fifteen ears. Upon the death of his son in the 1973 War, he left the sea and returned to the Kibbutz where he wrote and published twelve books of short stories and novellas (translated into Hebrew), as well as stories published in American literary magazines.

Auerbach’s short story, The Owl, was awarded First Prize in the first, PEN/UNESCO Awards in 1993.

From Booklist:

The title story won the first PEN/UNESCO Award in 1993, and, as in many pieces in this posthumous collection, the setting is a ship on a stormy ocean. The protagonist takes part in the crew's intense physical activity, but he's also secretly alien and apart. Allusions to Conrad abound, and in stories such as "My Captain and I," the secret sharer is a morose first officer, doing his work, furious when he sees himself in the captain opposite him. Auerbach's autobiographical stories in Tales of Grabowski [BKL Je 1 & 15 03] focused on his Holocaust survivor experience, where he fought with the foe in himself. Here the manic story "Cohen" shows that "survival is above absurdity," as two Polish Jewish sailors find their past connection from the Warsaw Ghetto via tobacco bales stacked in the hold of an Israeli steamer off the coast of Ireland in 1974. Not all the stories are as good as these, but the best of them speak with terse drama about the pain and power of being alone. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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