The Shawl
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The Shawl [Paperback]

Cynthia Ozick
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The Shawl" is a brief story first published in the New Yorker in 1981; "Rosa," its longer companion piece, appeared in that magazine three years later. They tell a story of a woman who survived the Holocaust but who has no life in the present because her existence was stolen away from her in a past that does not end. "A book that etches itself indelibly in the reader's mind," concluded PW .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is actually a five-page prologue and an extended short story. Aside from that, Ozick gives us exactly what we expect: a meditation, in figurative language at times dense and shimmering, at times richly colloquial, of the consequences of the Holocaust. Accompanied by her niece and hiding her tiny daughter, Magda, Rosa stumbles toward a concentration camp, where Magda is to die, flung against an electrified fence. Years later, in America, we meet "Rosa Lublin, a madwoman and a scavenger, who gave up her store--smashed it up herself--and moved to Miami." She still writes to her dead daughter, whose shawl she covets. When Rosa meets brash, voluble Simon Persky at the laundromat, she resists his arguments that "you can't live in the past" with some persuasive arguments of her own. Indeed, the reader is uncertain to the end whether Rosa will bend--and whether she ought to. A subtle yet morally uncompromising tale that many will regard as a small gem.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


This short story and novella, both O. Henry Prize winners, together create a picture of Rosa Lubin's life. The title story tells of Rosa's fifteen-month-old daughter's death in a concentration camp and the shawl that provided her daughter with satisfaction Rosa's breasts could no longer give. "Rosa," the novella, takes place more than thirty years later in southern Florida where it is "Summer without end, a mistake!" Rosa was exiled to Florida after destroying her shop in Brooklyn; she had to leave the state or be put in a mental institution. With financial help from her niece, who Rosa thinks is evil, she is able to stay in Florida. She knows she can depend on her niece because Rosa saved her life in the concentration camp; Rosa knows too, that her niece was the cause of her daughter's death. Rosa lives in two worlds: she functions in one called earth, but to Rosa, the real world is where her long-dead daughter lives. In letters to her daughter, she comments about her niece: "Because she fears the past she distrusts the future - it, too, will turn into the past. As a result she has nothing." Rosa is a woman who, through the loss of her country, her family, and her daughter, lost herself. Cynthia Ozick's spare writing leaves a lasting image of Rosa and her life. People do get lost and are sometimes never found. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Holly Smith

From the Inside Flap

A devastating vision of the Holocaust and the unfillable emptiness it left in the lives of those who passed through it.

About the Author

Long regarded as one of the country’s foremost literary luminaries, CYNTHIA OZICK attracts as much praise for her morally rigorous essays as for her satirically witty fiction. Counted among her impressive works of fiction are The Shawl (1989), which won an O. Henry Prize for both short stories that comprise it. She is a Man Booker International Prize nominee as well as a National Book Critics Circle Award winner.

Ozick was born and raised in Brooklyn, graduated from New York University, and regularly writes for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and the New York Times Book Review.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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