four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
29-July-Aug-2007
By: 
Tova Reich
user_rating: 
0

A-My HolocaustHolocaust survivor Maurice Messer, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and his neurotic son Norman, president of Holocaust Connections Inc., know how to exploit tragedy. In fact, they’ve made quite a profitable business of it. But their industry is not without certain complications. Norman’s daughter Nechama (Hebrew for "comfort") has become Sister Consolatia of the Cross at the convent near Auschwitz; Maurice gets possessive about "mine Holocaust" as he leads philanthropic donors through the death camps and deals with trouble at the museum; and the United Holocausts Rainbow believe that everyone should own the Holocaust. Soon, the Holocaust becomes a battleground for all victims—from Native Americans to African Americans, homosexuals, and chickens.
HarperCollins. 326 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0061173452

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Her book is subversive, painful, brilliant and, yes, both laugh-out-loud funny and illuminating. … Reich’s subversiveness lies in her refusal to award sole legitimacy to any one agenda. Every mission myopically pursued can become whacked out; every character, whether seeking validation, compensation or justice, is seen through the same withering lens." Tara Ison

Washington Post 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Serious and hilarious and utterly scathing—no, lacerating; no, disemboweling—My Holocaust takes no prisoners in its two short, bookended chapters and its two lengthy set pieces, one inside the museum’s hallowed walls and another on a special donors’ tour of Auschwitz. … Reich reserves her most brutal commentary for the so-called ‘universalists’ who use empathy and spuriously heartfelt identification to exterminate the particular, historical tragedy of the Jewish people." Melvin Jules Bukiet

Hartford Courant 4 of 5 Stars
"Soon after beginning this viciously funny, head-spinning novel about the commoditizing of victim-hood and the marketing of memorialization, you’re hesitant to touch its pages, lest the coruscating satire burn your fingertips. … There have been countless deeply serious, heart-rending, stomach-turning, mind-boggling accounts of man’s inhumanity, Nazi-style—but this novel is clearly in its own class." Carole Goldberg

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"Tova Reich is fearless, in the best possible way, and her take on the culture of victimization spares no captives in the gulag of self-anointed martyrdom. … [Her] gift for satire is impeccable, her ear for absurdity pitch perfect." Karen Heller

Chicago Sun-Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Some might find such a treatment of such a subject offensive. Making fun, though not light, of a topic as fraught as the Holocaust takes chutzpah, a quality in which author Tova Reich abounds." Carlo Wolff

Critical Summary

More than 70 years later, most writers still tread softly when it comes to the six million Jews (and countless others) who died at the hands of the Nazis. My Holocaust is a totally different breed. A shocking, brave satire, the novel digs into those who, in the name of avenging six million deaths, commodify tragedy. Despite her absurd, offensive characters (including a jihad terrorist who gets co-opted by a rabbi), Tova Reich never trivializes the Holocaust: indeed, by presenting the outlandishness of her characters’ cheap morality, she encourages readers to ponder the gravity of the Holocaust. "I take no offense in being offended, if the truths revealed enlighten," notes the Philadelphia Inquirer. And with humor and anger, My Holocaust enlightens.