First published in 1940, Yankev Glatshteyn's Emil & Karl is an eerily moving glimpse of the worst of the Holocaust to come. In his elegant translation from the original Yiddish, Jeffrey Shandler brings us this literary gem in English for the first time.Vienna, 1938. Two boys, one Jewish, one not, fend for themselves after their parents are taken away by the Nazis. Emil and Karl, best friends, are brave and loyal in a world of persecution and cruelty. The Holocaust has recently been rediscovered by children's authors as a new generation of young people, growing up at an ever greater distance from the reality, risks losing a sense of its horror. But Yankev Glatshteyn's Emil & Karl is an exceptional novel, not just for its raw and compassionate portrayal of what was suffered by the Jews in Austria, but for its historical accuracy. Written in 1940 in Yiddish, this heart-wrenching story of two nine-year-old friends caught up in the earliest tremors of anti-Semitic hatred in Vienna is all the more shocking because its author had no idea of what was still to come. Despite the casual violence done to their families - Karl's parents were socialists and Emil is Jewish - the boys find moments of kindness, courage and hope along their painful journey. Emil & Karl is a moving story of friendship and survival in a time of hate. It will resonate with readers of all ages.More
Based on author Yankev Glatshteyn’s frightening observations of the growing wave of anti-semitism in 1930’s Poland, Emil & Karl painted a nightmarish portrait of Nazi oppression at a time when the worst atrocities of the Holocaust were yet to occur. Performer Humphrey Bower captures the hushed urgency - the sense of pervasive doom - that follows the story’s two child protagonists. Respectively the sons of Jewish and socialist parents, Emil and Karl both lose their fathers to Nazi persecution, and the friends resolve to stick together through the challenges that follow. Translated into English some six decades after its initial run in Yiddish, Emil & Karl has quickly emerged as one of the most visceral reminders - for both children and adults - of Nazi genocide and racial intolerance.
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- melissa donovan