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Customer Review

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting piece of Holocaust-inspired fiction, January 20, 2002
This review is from: The Shawl (Paperback)
"The Shawl," the book by Cynthia Ozick, is made up of two linked pieces: a short story (also entitled "The Shawl"), and a novella ("Rosa"). Together, these pieces make up a book that is just about 70 pages long. But despite its brevity, "The Shawl" is a powerful work of fiction.
The book tells the story of Rosa Lublin, a Polish Jew and survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. Eventually she settles in Florida. This is a dark, haunting tale with some surreal satiric elements.
There are many fascinating touches to "The Shawl." I was intrigued by Ozick's representation of immigrant "English-as-a-second-language" speech patterns. Also noteworthy is Ozick's look at the complexity of linguistic, class, and national identification within the Jewish community. Rosa's problematic relationship-by-mail with a professor of clinical social pathology is also noteworthy, and struck me as comparable to a certain motif in Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved."
Rosa, who is bitter, angry, and psychologically broken, is a genuinely haunting and tragic figure. "The Shawl" is not light reading, but it is a memorable and rewarding book. Recommended as a companion text: Art Spiegelman's 2-volume "Maus."
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