• by Affinity Konar
  • Narrated by Vanessa Johansson
  • 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"One of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year" (Anthony Doerr), about twin sisters fighting to survive the evils of World War II.
Pearl is in charge of the sad, the good, the past.
Stasha must care for the funny, the future, the bad.
It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.
As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.
That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion, Feliks - a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin - travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, and the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.
A superbly crafted story, told in a voice as exquisite as it is boundlessly original, Mischling defies every expectation, traversing one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.


What the Critics Say

"Mischling is a phenomenal book - harrowing and heartbreaking, intimate and epic - and Affinity Konar is a wise and compassionate writer with talent in spades. An achingly beautiful novel that will stay with me for a long, long time." (Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans)
"This novel, haunted by history and the unknowable power of family, is made bearable - indeed, necessary - by the spectacle of a literary imagination that observes no limits. Konar has produced a tremendously unsettled work of art." (Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet)
"Affinity Konar's Mischling is a tale of courage, courageously told - spare and beautiful, riveting and heartrending. Half of me wanted to linger over every page, the other half insisted I race ahead. It's a case of extraordinary storytelling from first page to transcendent last." (David Wroblewski, author of the New York Times best seller The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

*We Will Never Forget*...So much to remember

Tear drops are as much a part of this novel as the words. It doesn't escape me that today is the 15th anniversary of 911. A moment of teary silence offered for almost 3,000 human beings snuffed out...each significant tear drop added to an ocean of atrocities.

Mischling -- "mixed blood" a term meant to signify an flaw or inferiority, used by the Third Reich for those of both Aryan and Jewish blood -- is a horrible story by default, as the summary promises it will be. Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death, barbaric experimentation on twins, why would I want to read this book--even with its starred reviews and high praise? There's enough inhumanity and brutality happening everyday to make me full of it and sick of it; it threatens to dull my senses and harden my heart. ["!?Where will we put 10,000 refugees from the lands of those who hate us so much that they would use a child to harm our own?!"] (The obvious political arguments and corrections come afterwards.) Then I woke up today on the 11th of September and remembered the full scope of why we must "never forget." I want to read to expand what I should remember -- to see beyond the landscape of hatred from which those enemies of mankind want me to live a blunted wrathful life. The question is does this fictional piece honor the memory of the 6 million we must also never forget?

Konar uses an interesting and powerful approach to capture this black time in history. The story is narrated in turns by the twins, using the bright language of children and the games the sisters create to pretend away the barbarity -- to accept the unacceptable. It is their naïveté and fragile innocence through which we experience the abominations. How does a child fear a handsome monster that strokes their head kindly and offers candy? Konar uses her skill as a writer rather than relying on easy sentimentality. And, that is not exactly a merciful omission...us adults educated on the history of the Third Reich fill in each violation beyond the vocabulary of a child. The *tactic* is uncomfortably successful.

The girls take on a beautiful nobility through their steadfast love for one another and their hope--a tiny flicker that wouldn't be diminished by even the darkest forces. Their story leaves us a little wounded, but surprisingly restored and recommitted (I won't go as far as to say optimistic). Strengthened by their caring for one another, they were able to fight and endure evil without becoming evil. A noble battle. Does it honor the memories of the 6,000,000; enrich our reasoning of why it is important to remember 3,000, enlarge our humanity enough to embrace 10,000 before they are also remembered with tears and silence? I think so, I hope so. I don't know. You will have to ask your own heart.

It won't diminish your opinion of this book if I voice mine. I dropped a * because...the second half of the novel started to drag a little and seemed a weak and neat wrap-up to me. The tie in of the *zoos* at the beginning and end (Auschwitz and a city zoo), was almost unbearable (NPI), clumsy and amateurish in an otherwise impressive and inspiring book.

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- Mel

Provocative, evocative, beautifully crafted

Konar creates a world between the two young girls whose twinhood sustains them in the face of unimaginable tortures. The beauty of the language used to describe the horrors of Mengele's zoo makes them all the more devastating. This tale, woven around history, is compelling, breathtaking, will lay the reader bare and make tears fall. That anyone survived the camps is always amazing, but the story of these two girls, of what they endure and how they endured is awful, terrifying and beautiful.
I may go back to the beginning to listen again to appreciate the brilliant writing even more now that I know the beautiful story.
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- Susan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-06-2016
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio