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Lovely Green Eyes: A Novel Paperback – October 10, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prague-born Lustig (The Bitter Smell of Almonds) adds this chronicle of a resilient teenage girl to his highly regarded oeuvre of spare and haunting novels rooted in the Holocaust. The "lovely green eyes" of the title belong to 15-year-old Hanka "Skinny" Kaudersova, a shy, ginger-haired girl and the only member of her family to avoid death in Auschwitz. At first a cleaner in a camp hospital lab (where the doctor sterilizes her), she continues to evade extermination by lying about her age and her heritage (passing herself as Aryan) and is requisitioned as a prostitute in the German military field brothels. In a typical workday, Hanka services at least a dozen soldiers, many of whom are distraught and violent. Lustig presents the brothel clients as fully rounded characters, both viciously prejudiced against Jews and kind to the (Czech, they think) girl whose body they use. Constant hunger, freezing temperatures and disease further weaken Skinny's spirit, but as the war ends, she realizes she must search for her place in a world built on ashes. A rabbi, who is himself drowning in despair, attempts to offer her solace, but she's unable to shed her shame and guilt. Back in Prague, agonized by nightmarish memories, she settles in with a group of survivors and meets the narrator, whose declaration of love eventually thaws her heart. Lustig's prose is evocative at the same time it is sparse, even during harrowing scenes of physical and mental cruelty. Aided by a fine translation, this is a stunning work, worthy of comparison to those by Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. In imagining the ordeal of a young girl "who had looked on the devil 12 times a day," Lustig has created an unforgettable character within whom "remembrance and oblivion contended," but who still summons the courage to affirm life.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A Feldhure, or army prostitute, working in Feldbordell No. 232 Ost somewhere near the eastern front during World War II, Skinny is known to the German soldiers who frequent the camp brothel as Lovely Green Eyes. Managing to pass as a gentile and lying about her age the 15-year-old comes by her position after her entire family perishes at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the brothel, her daily quota is a dozen German soldiers, sometimes more, back from the front. With the sparest prose whose harrowing monotone only increases our sensation of horror, the author covers Skinny's daily routine amid the executions, medical experiments, gassings, and incinerations that are the fabric of camp life. This includes listening in her cubicle to the rantings of German officers convinced that the Reich will last forever. With this highly original novel, written in the tradition of bearing witness, Lustig (The Bitter Smell of Almonds), himself a survivor of the death camps, brings our understanding one step closer to the abyss in which countless millions died. Recommended for all literary collections. Edward Cone, New York
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing (October 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559706961
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559706964
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,189,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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I am glad that his writing gave me the courage to read it.
Danusia Szumowski
The answer is surely that a really good piece of writing addresses some important aspect of the human condition in a powerful and memorable way.
keetmom
It's far too confusing so for most of the book I had no idea who was narrating and how the characters had gotten to where they were.
Keila

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Schweizer VINE VOICE on February 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a modest work with powerful, unforgettable dialogue. It is thinly plotted, poorly conceived, and fizzles out, but at its core lies of nugget of pure gold. The young lady drafted into a field brothel serving German troops during WWII is not a well-written character; there really isn't much there. She is Jewish, scheduled to be murdered, and then "saved" by her preference for life at any cost to death. This is not a hard decision as presented by the author; who would prefer gas? Off she goes. The writing picks up enormously when she is presented with her Nazi "customers" in the flesh. If she were serving young soldiers, it might make for morbidly erotic reading; instead here partners are frighteningly articulate officers whose questions are piercing and menacing like the dialogue in a Pinter play. The officers are not campy gestapo types in sexy uniforms. Instead, they are in fresh off the battle field, with blood and guts on their boots. They are racist fanatics, spouting all kinds of terrifying nonsense about Jews, while having the power of life or death over this shivering little mouse of a girl who just hopes to get through the ordeal of offering physical pleasure to men in search of spiritual relief. The exchanges are terrifying because the men are highly suspicious of her claim of being 18 years of age and are not too sure she isn't lying about how she's spent her youth. One slip and her Jewish origins would be exposed. The men, in short, seem bent on "knowing" far more about the girl than she is prepared to admit, which makes for tense, exciting bed talk. The last part of the novel, which takes place after the war lacks focus. Once out of the bedroom, the banter falls flat. The Rabbi is a bore, not even remotely as interesting as the Nazi officers. The tension is eased and finally erased. Still, this is an intriguing piece of writing. What we learn, again and again, is just how morally compelling the subject of Europe's descent into hell actually is.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kali on May 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
Would you become a whore in order to survive? This is the question that A 15 year old Jewish girl Hanka Kaudersová asks herself when she is given the chance to pass herself off as a gentile in the concentration camp she and her family have been sent too during the last months of the war.

She is lucky to have "lovely green eyes", and reddish hair, she doesn't physically look Jewish and so she has a chance of life and she takes it even though she hates what she has to become in order to survive.

With all her family dead, her mother and younger brother sent straight to the gas chambers, her father choosing to throw himself on the camp's electric fence than to have to live in such terrible conditions, Hanka has no one left to call her own, all she has is her will to live but is it powerful enough to get her through the horrors ahead of her as she learns to ply her trade as a soldier's whore?

With many other girls, all older than she is, no one knows she is only 15 years old, she has pretended to be 18, Hanka or Skinny as she is known as has to service between 12 to 15 German soldiers each day and this she does even though she hates every moment of it.

Her virginity is lost in the brothel, only she knows this, though a German officer asks her with curious detached interest about her first sexual experience which Hanka tells him with equal detachment was "strange". The men she is forced to have sex with she has no feelings for, no passion, no desire, no love, no lust, nothing other than hatred and fear for what she must do in order to see the sun rise the next day.

However Hanka is a survivor, and her friendships with the other girls in the Brothel especially the enigmatic Estelle sustains her each and every dat and she does survive when all those around her perish one by one.

An evocative cruel read that leaves you wanting more even when the last page has been turned.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By fhuband on April 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
Just finished this very powerful thought-provoking novel. It told the story of 15-year old Jewish "skinny" Hanka Kaudersova who with her family was deported to Auschwitz during WWII. Her mother, father, and younger brother are sent to the gas chamber but skinny survives by claiming to be 18 and by chance being sent to an SS brothel behind the eastern front where her Aryan looks allowed her to disguise the fact she was Jewish. She has to service 12 or more German soldiers per day while at the brothel except when an officer claims her for a whole day. She services one of the SS officers --Obersturmfuhrer Stefan Sarazin who personifies all that was evil with Nazi Germany. This quote from Sarazin briefly shows his perspective on life: "Beauty is beyond morality. Beyond good and evil. Beauty is Germany, the Waffen-SS, the Einsatzgruppen, the Jagdkommandos. The bomb that drops on an inhabited site. A town consumed by flames. Anything that dissolves into nothing. A captured enemy division turned into ashes like those vermin at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka and Majdanek. The hand grenade we thrust between the legs of that Jewish prostitute. I pulled the pin and watched from a distance as she lay there, with her hands tied, screaming, and then turned into a firework." Skinny's life as a prostitute servicing these German officers was more than horrific! It is really unbelievable that the atrocities of the Holocaust could have happened. The descriptions in this novel really hit hard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on February 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Arnos Lustig was a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald who in after the war who would be voice of consceince all his life, reigning from the Czech Communist Party in 1967 in protest at Czechoslovakia breaking ties with Israel and presecuting Jews in that country and leaving Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion of 1968
This astonishing and moving story bring to life the horrors of the Nazi holocaust and World War II written by a remarkable man who lived through them.
15 year old Hanka Kudersova known as Skinny watches her parents and younger brother incinerated in at Auschwitz. A shy girl with ginger hair and beautiful green eyes, she is able to escape the gas chamber selections and hiding her being Jewish thanks to her 'Aryan' looks , (meaning not stereotypically Jewish) she is able to survive only by finding herself in a place in a Nazi field brothel where young girls, mainly Slavic, must endure sexual exploitation at the hands of German soldiers and officers, daily. the girls must service an average of twelve Nazi soldiers and officers every day, unless they are selected to spend the day with a high ranking officer,
Skinny buries her feelings and learns to survive by anticipating every move of her tormentors, She must listen to the deranged ranting of the Obersturmfuhrer Stefan Sarazin who tells her of his obsession with murdering Jews, and how in another field brothel he cruelly murdered a young prostitute after it emerged she was Jewish by detonating a handgrenade between her legs.

It is through the narratives of the German officers that we get much insight into the Nazi killing machine. It is Skinny's determination to survive that she does all she has to do to please the men she despises , and hide who she really is.
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