Review The Magician of Auschwitz Madalena Barata joserodriguessantos March 14, 2023

Review The Magician of Auschwitz Madalena Barata

Madalena Barata, vice-president Luso Portuguese Association for Israel

Luso Portuguese Association for Israel

“It seems fiction has found a new subject: The Holocaust. I, like many people, and even the author as we shall see, felt some reluctance in seeing this subject dealt in a novel. Fiction demands freedom of imagination, but in this case, it requires a respect for unimaginable facts.

In The Magician of Auschwitz we access the Nazi doctrinaire basis. Just like Hannah Arendt, José Rodrigues dos Santos thrives to provide an explanation for the absurd and tragic practice of evil carried out by common people, but without excusing them.

In The Scrolls of Birkenau we face daily life in a death camp: death lurking at every moment, hunger, cold, mud. These are pages of suffering without tears in which we read the absurd of the extermination of the Jews. I actually advise readers to start at the Final Note of  The Scrolls of Birkenau, where the author uses certified information to show that the Sonderkommando members are real people and not fictional ones. The reason they managed to withstand their experiences to the limit, was because they hoped to share what they had seen, and name those who died.

These two novels accomplish what Kafka demanded from literature: “We should only read books that bite us”. Before reading these novels, for me José Rodrigues dos Santos was a journalist who wrote books. From now on he is a writer who is also a journalist.”