by Stig Dalager
Translated by Frances Osterfelt and Cheryl Robson
Shortlisted for the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation
Separated from his parents who are deported by the Nazis, David struggles to survive, alone, hungry and scared, until he eventually finds his way to the city of Warsaw. There he learns from other Jewish boys how to work in the black market, dodging the police and the Gestapo until the eventual day comes when the ghetto is cleared and everyone is herded into trains for the long trip to the camps. Will David survive? Can he outwit them one more time? Shortlisted for The Marsh Award for Children’s Literature in Translation.
“How was it possible for Stig Dalager to write about the last years of the story of David in such a shocking and convincing way that one should think that this was written by Isaac B. Singer or one of the other Polish-Jewish geniuses?” Jewish Information Magazine
“Dalager has written a shockingly relevant historical novel, a taut story of international standing and appeal. A monument to our own shame, at that time and now.” Politiken Newspaper, Denmark
“The excellent translation carries the reader along effortlessly. This is another book about the Holocaust for young people that deserves its place alongside such international writers as Gudrun Pausewang and Uri Orlev.” –Amazon reviewer
“A very moving story. You never really get to hear how children survived before but their bravery, courage and resourcefulness in those horrifying times are here in print to read. I had very differing emotions reading David’s story. First came joy that he escaped the germans, then came sadness that he became captured through to pure hatred for what the germans did to the Jewish people. At the end of this book I really had this image of David in my mind and shed a few tears for his life he had lost and the trauma he, his family, friends and all the Jewish people went through. It really does make you appreciate the times we now live in but we must not forgotten what happened to all of these people, ever. – ***** — M.A. Coyle ― Amazon Vine voice
“Despite being a translation of Stig Dalager’s original Danish text, this is one of the most readable and accessible accounts of the Holocaust I have ever read. My wife and I both enjoyed this book immensely, and it reads well. It is presented in good clear prose, and rings true with other accounts – my wife once transcribed texts from Holocaust survivors, and knows what sounds like real accounts. Dalager is an experienced writer, and this shows. There are a number of Holocaust survivor children’s diaries, and you can feel that whilst this book is changing from one to another, each section was very real to the person who wrote the diaries used. The story begins with the start of restrictions on Jewish life, and advances to roundups, forced marches, the ghetto, and transportation. The ending is something you’ll have to judge for yourself as to whether or not David makes it out alive. He certainly seems to be able to escape from earlier challenges, but the author has adapted the stories, so who knows which chapters were real happy endings, and which ended the way that so many tragedies did in those times. The atmosphere in David’s village at the start shows the tipping point where Jews were suddenly no longer just neighbours, and became non-persons to be abused and ultimately murdered. The question one has to ask is: just how did their oppressors come to believe that anybody has the right to do what they did? In reality, this book reminds you that in the end, it was the Nazis who lost their humanity. Humans could not have treated children the way that these children were forced to suffer. Read this book, and if you didn’t understand what I meant in the previous paragraph, you soon will…” ***** –– M.J. Jacobs ― Amazon Vine reviewer
“I am rather wary of fictional works set during the Holocaust. One reason is that it is a subject of importance to me, but it has sometimes been used to lend a spurious air of gravitas to mediocre work which has been over-praised by critics out of of reverence for its subject matter. However, I thought David’s Story a good book which painted a vivid, sometimes brilliant and often disturbing picture of those times. The story – based on the accounts and diaries of children during this period – is about a young Jewish boy’s experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War. The book is written (and excellently translated) in the present tense and in an unfussy, matter-of-fact style. Love and horror, acts of monstrous inhumanity and small, moving acts of kindness, for example, are all described in the same tone which gives the narrative a real drive and sense of immediacy which brings the events to life quite remarkably, particularly in the first half of the book. It is told almost exclusively from David’s point of view, and one gets a real sense of his initial bewilderment and then his growing world-wisdom, pierced by his remaining humanity and child-like emotions. The cold, the fear, the hunger, the isolation and so on are quite brilliantly evoked. It is a very involving story with genuine empathy and real quality of thought which has important things to say. Recommended.”
–**** — Sid Nuncius #1 Top reviewer ― Amazon Vine Voice
About the Author
Stig Dalager is one of Denmark’s most distinguished authors whose novels and plays have been translated and staged internationally. His works include I count the hours, (staged in 12 countries), The Dream, (premiered in New York’s La Mama Theatre starring Ingmar Bergman and Bibi Andersson ); Two Days in July (a novel about the plot to kill Hitler), Journey in Blue, about Hans Christian Andersen (published in 15 countries and nominated for The Impac Prize 2008), The Labyrinth and Falling Shadows (about 9/11).
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