Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Boxer by Jurek Becker (1976, translated by Alessandra Bastagli)

I owe my great thanks to Max u for the Amazon Gift Card that allowed me to read The Boxer

The Boxer by Jurek Becker (born 1937 in Lotz, Poland, died Thumby, Germany, 1997) is about a concentration camp survivor and his relationship to his son.  The man's wife, he was Jewish, was taken away, his two year old son put in a children's concentration camp, where survival rates were incredibly low, and he himself spent six years in a slave labor camp.  Upon his release he receives a pension and priority housing as a form of reparation, he goes to work as a bookkeeper for a big time black market operator, he has two long term affairs, he makes a close friend who kills himself and he goes to an office that helps people try to find out what happened to individuals last known to be in camps.  Miraculously he finds his son, now eight.   Not long ago I read a nonfiction book about the emotional impact their years in the camps had on survivors.  Becker's book covers this in the case of one person brilliantly.  The man, he was once a boxer, tries to relate to his son and his girlfriends and they to him. Everyone is damaged in some way by the Holocaust years. 

The Boxer is very understated but it is very moving and deeply insightful.  The story is structured as if it were a government interviewer taking down the man's story, part of the drama of the novel is the man, now in his late sixties getting to know the much younger interviewer.  It covers over twenty five years in the life of the man and his son.  The relationship of the man, he had his son trained to box when he was bullied at school, is not easy to understand and is full of sadness.

I have previously read and posted on Becker's Jacob the Lier and The Wall and other Stories.  Jacob the Lier is the best selling of his books, per Amazon, and I would suggest you start there.

The Boxer is a first rate novel focusing on an important aspect of the Holocaust, the fate of survivors.

The kindle edition of this book has numerous run together words.  It was obviously never proof read after conversion to the kindle format.  Jurek Becker deserves more respect than this and so do book buyers.  
Mel u

No comments: