New book highlights life and work of Holocaust survivor

Posted by er134 at May 29, 2013 12:20 PM |
University of Leicester academic, Dr Fransiska Louwagie, co-edits book on major novel by Piotr Rawicz

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 29 May 2013

A new book co-edited by Dr Fransiska Louwagie, from the School of Modern Languages at the University of Leicester, is soon to be launched at both the Holocaust Memorial in Paris and the Wiener Library in London.

The book, entitled ‘Un ciel de sang et de cendres : Piotr Rawicz et la solitude du témoin’  (A sky of blood and ashes: Piotr Rawicz and the loneliness of the witness) focuses on Ukrainian-French Holocaust survivor Piotr Rawicz and his exceptional novel Le Sang du ciel (translated as: Blood from the Sky).

The first event to launch Dr Louwagie’s book takes place at the Holocaust Memorial in Paris on Sunday 2 June 2013.

After escaping the ghetto of Lvov, Piotr Rawicz, who committed suicide in 1982, survived the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Leitmeritz by concealing his Jewish identity from his Nazi persecutors. Blood from the Sky, first published in French in 1961, is widely considered as a masterpiece of European and Holocaust literature.

Relating the destruction of Eastern European Judaism, the rich and provocative novel confronts the reader with the extreme isolation experienced by the main character as he too attempts to hide his Jewishness and struggles with the moral compromises that survival entails.

Dr Fransiska Louwagie, current Deputy Director of The Stanley Burton Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Leicester, said: “Whilst Rawicz’s book achieved immediate literary success, it gradually fell into obscurity, receiving little critical attention for a long time. Addressing this lack, this publication includes a range of contributions analysing Rawicz’s exceptional novel from the perspective of different academic disciplines.

“It also allows the reader to rediscover Piotr Rawicz as a person and a character, through texts written by his friends – including important French and migrant writers as Hélène Cixous, Elie Wiesel and Danilo Kis – as well as through the pages of his unpublished diary, which reveal a magnetizing but desperate man, both deeply religious and disillusioned, always caught up between survival and death.”

Dr Louwagie’s book, which is co-edited with Dr Anny Dayan Rosenman (Université Paris VII) and published by Kimé, will be launched at the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris on 2nd June 2013, at an event attended by prominent French scholars and writers including Hélène Cixous and Bertrand Leclair. The UK presentation in partnership with  the Wiener Library will take place in London on 25 September 2013.

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