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Notícias Holy Shit, Who Thought This Nazi Romance Novel Was a Good Idea?

Tópico em 'Generalidades Literárias' iniciado por Bruce Torres, 21 Ago 2015.

  1. Bruce Torres

    Bruce Torres Let's be alone together.

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    The annual conference of the Romance Writers of America, held a few weeks ago, was a great time. But it’s tough to get past a truly horrifying discovery: Not only did somebody write a Christian romance novel with a Jewish heroine and a Nazi “hero,” it was nominated for two RITA awards, the genre’s equivalent of the Hugo.

    Here is the Amazon description of
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    , written by
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    and published by Christian imprint Bethany House Publishers:

    In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

    Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.

    Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

    Smart Bitches, Trash Books has a
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    of everything that’s appalling about this premise. Apparently it heavily features a Christian Bible that helps Hadassah/Stella in her suffering. And yet this book garnered not one but
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    given by the RWA for “excellence in romance fiction”—in the inspirational and first book categories.

    How this happened, technically: There’s a corner of the romance business, a very specific subgenre, known as “inspirational.” Some of those books are simply sweeter and less explicit, starring soft-focus idealized Amish characters, for women who don’t want to read about cocks all over the place unless they’re chickens. I am not one of those women, but fair enough. But the category also contains a lot of outright, hardcore Lifeway Christian Bookstore-style evangelical novels. And as Tablet
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    , that particular type of Christian (always weird about the Jews, generally) has lately gotten very into the character of Esther. Then there’s the popular romance trope of trying to write the darkest hero you can and still somehow redeem him. Combine that with the Christian idea that anyone is redeemable through God’s grace, throw it all in the world’s worst blender and you get this book.

    And award ceremonies generally are notoriously screwy, especially for something as chopped into subdomains and fiefdoms as romance. Contemporaries are judged separately from historicals are judged separately from romantic suspense.

    That’s an intellectual explanation, anyway. I still cannot fathom how this book made it to print, amassed a bunch of positive reviews at Goodreads and elsewhere, and then got nominated for RITA awards which, again, is the highest honor in romance publishing. Not just in the inspirational category, either—it got a nod in the best first book category. It’s about a Jewish woman in a concentration camp and the man who runs the concentration camp. In a story that’s ultimately turned to Christian purposes.

    Romance, as a genre, is a sophisticated dance between fantasy and reality. The genre is not afraid to grapple with the uglier realities of women’s lives, but ultimately it’s about imagining a healthy, successful love relationship. You can imagine anything. Why would you choose to imagine this? And this is especially galling at a time when many writers and readers are pressing for not just
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    , but more support for those books from big publishers and organizations like RWA. Obviously, a fair chunk of the romance audience has always been white, heterosexual, middle-class, and Christian. But it’s truly jarring to see the genre cough up something like this. “At least it didn’t win” is faint consolation.

    And the online romance world is in an uproar over the book. Smart Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has responded with
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    to the RWA board absolutely blasting the novel’s inclusion on the RITA slate:

    In For Such a Time, the hero is redeemed and forgiven for his role in a genocide. The stereotypes, the language, and the attempt at redeeming an SS officer as a hero belittle and demean the atrocities of the Holocaust....

    I am addressing each step in the process of this book by writing to the author, the editor, the head of the publishing house, and of course you, the board of the RWA. I know many of you personally and have a great deal of respect for the responsibilities you carry. I know that you don’t each personally oversee the RITA nominations, nor do you personally judge each book.

    But the fact that this book was nominated in two categories is deeply hurtful, and I believe creates an environment where writers of faiths other than Christianity, not just Jewish writers, feel unwelcome. It certainly had that effect on me, because I don’t understand exactly how so many judges agreed that a book so offensive and insensitive was worthy of the RWA’s highest honor.

    The conversation about For Such a Time is dovetailing with longer-term conversations about diversity in romance, which have been building in volume for years. Many RWA attendees spoke out after the conference about moments where they felt they were getting pushback for pushing for a more inclusive genre. RWA has already announced (via board member Courtney Milan) a new committee to address the issue of diversity. Hopefully romance can continue moving forward, rather than collapsing into a smoldering reactionary pile of rubble.

    Fonte:
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    Como o pessoal do Tropes parafraseou o How NOT to Write a Novel:
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    — but he's a strict vegetarian and
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    . Tossing in a touching scene with his German Shepherd Blondi and a dish of lentils won't make Hitler's character "balanced"
    .

    Fico pensando em quem achou que um romance entre um nazista e uma judia podia ser uma boa trama.
     
    • LOL LOL x 1
  2. Calib

    Calib Visitante

    Alguém muito esperto
    porque a coisa tá dando certo.
     
  3. Grimnir

    Grimnir Usuário

    Alguém ficou ofendido? Pergunta retórica...
     
  4. Calib

    Calib Visitante

    Demais. Aposto que o romance não tinha trigger warning para falar do holocausto.
    --- Mensagem Dupla Unificada, 21 Ago 2015, Data da Mensagem Original: 21 Ago 2015 ---
    Tem gente que escreve "Orgulho e preconceito e zumbis", e você acha que essa ideia aí foi ruim? :lol:
     
  5. Bruce Torres

    Bruce Torres Let's be alone together.

    Pelo que deu a entender, não é um romance sobre como o amor redime, mas como o cristianismo - e um pouco de amor - redime - tipo Nicholas Sparks. :lol:

    A premissa é seguir a trama do livro de Ester: um cara que não gosta dos judeus tenta convencer o rei assírio Assuero a assinar uma lei que permita matar todos os judeus - o que incluiria Ester, agora sua esposa. Mordecai, o primo de Ester, a alerta sobre a lei e fala com o marido. Como ele não pode reverter a lei, declara uma nova que diz que todo judeu tem o direito de lutar pela própria vida - origem do Dia do Purim.

    Isso significa que o par romântico é espelhado em Assuero? Banalidade do mal retroativa? :tsc:

    Falo nada, mas Abraham Lincoln: Caçador de Vampiros foi mais emocionante que Lincoln - falando sobre filmes, deixando claro. :lol:

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    RITA READER CHALLENGE REVIEW

    For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
    by
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    · Jun 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    This RITA® Reader Challenge 2015 review was written by Rachel. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best First Book category.

    THE SUMMARY:
    In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

    Here is Rachel's review:

    The four initial facts you absolutely need to know about For Such a Time by Kate Breslin are as follows:

    1) It is an inspirational romance. God, faith, and the Bible (actually, a ‘magic’ Bible** that seems to show up whenever the main character needs to see it most) make regular appearances.

    2) It is set almost entirely in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II, and deals extensively with the horrors of the Holocaust, with particularly unflinching consideration of the atrocities committed against children.

    3) It is a retelling of the story of the Book of Esther. For those unfamiliar with that text, it is the story of how a young Jewish woman appeals to her husband, the not-Jewish King of Persia, in order to save her people from the genocidal designs of his abhorrent adviser.

    4) You may see the writing on the wall already, but the combination of facts two and three above mean that this is a romance set between a Jewish woman and a high-ranking Nazi during the Holocaust.

    Specifically, the romance is between half-Jewish prisoner, Hadassah, and Aric, an SS officer who saves her from execution at Dachau, then brings her to Theresienstadt (which he runs), to serve as his personal secretary– believing the whole time that she was raised by a Jewish family, but is not actually Jewish herself.

    That initial briefing may be enough to tell you if this book is just Not For You. And honestly, it should have been enough for me to realize that. In particular, I knew going into the story that a Nazi-Jewish prisoner romance was almost certain to be a dealbreaker for me. I’m not a historian; I can’t say such a relationship never happened. And I can’t say that a fictional treatment of such an imagined relationship couldn’t, in the right hands, be a fruitful source for difficult and meaningful meditations on mercy, forgiveness, and what love truly requires. But if you want me to believe that a relationship between the top official at a concentration camp and his prisoner truly is a love story, rather than a story about heinous disparities in power and something like Stockholm Syndrome — well, that would take a lot of convincing. This book just didn’t get there for me.

    Let me be clear that despite the low grade, quite a lot of the book is very good. Breslin is a wonderful prose writer: While some of the themes and things her characters did made me side-eye (or, you know, go into a livid meltdown), her prose never did. Her descriptions are both beautiful and horrible (which seems appropriate given the subject matter), and she has a particular gift for conveying the painful, imploding sense of frustration that Hadassah feels watching her people be tortured and killed, and knowing that there is nothing she can do that won’t reveal her true identity and get her killed.

    Breslin also seems to have done quite a lot of painstaking research — both into Holocaust history and the Book of Esther. I was particularly impressed that Breslin managed to parallel not just the broad sweeps of the Book of Esther in her novel, but also translated the smaller plot points as well.

    And she has a gift for well-drawn support characters who the reader believes have challenging and important stories of their own going on offscreen. Hadassah’s dignified, wise, quietly witty Uncle Morty– who is the sole surviving Jewish elder at the camp, cruelly (not nearly a strong enough word) tasked by the Nazis with deciding who will be deported to the death camp at Auschwitz– is, for me, the best thing about the novel.

    Despite all those good things, this book simply did not work for me. And the reason is its central romance — or, more specifically, its romantic hero, Aric. Full disclosure: I knew going into this book that almost nothing would make me get on board with thehead of a concentration camp as the hero.

    Perhaps this was a failure of compassion on my part, but I simply am not able to get past the number of war crimes, human rights abuses, and general atrocities Aric commits both before and during the story. I’m glad that by the end of the story he finally does some truly good and courageous things, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s relationship-ready. (He’s super not.)

    The reality of Aric’s relationship with Hadassah is that, at all times, he holds her life in his hands — and they both know it. In that context, his repeated expressions of desire for Hadassah and his penchant for grabbing and kissing her aren’t just your standard romance dubious-consent hash, but are an incredible, intolerable abuse of his power.

    Breslin tries to make Aric’s behavior look good in comparison by making virtually every other Nazi officer who encounters Hadassah overtly rape-y, but ‘better than a cartoonishly evil Nazi’ should, in my view, be a prerequisite for a hero, not a selling point. (Breslin’s treatment of Aric’s role as an SS officer is similar: While he does not spout the same kind of anti-Semitic vitriol the other characters do and shows compassion to several Jews even before his Big Redemption Arc, that doesn’t change the fact that he joined up with the Nazis of his own free will and oversees mass incarceration and murder.) Aric is brooding, taciturn, grabby, extremely possessive, convinced that his lover will ‘save him’ from his shit choices, and almost always unwilling to let his lover make her own decisions (although Hadassah finally calls him on that one toward the end of the book). In short, he is all the things I usually abhor in an alpha hero. Stuff all that into an SS uniform, and you can guarantee that I will be flipping my crap in anger every couple of pages.

    As for Hadassah, I never fully understood how and why she falls for Aric. Yes, he is damaged (both spiritually and physically thanks to a war injury), and yes he clearly wants her, and yes, the grabby-hands kissing seems to work for her. But her transition from “He’s my captor who is participating in the destruction of 6 million people” to “He’s my captor and he’s broody-hot but I shouldn’t” to “I love him!!!!” was too early and abrupt for me to really make sense of it; it felt more like a narrative prerequisite than an organic development. As a result, Hadassah’s attachment to Aric always struck me more as a naturally loving person (her main character trait throughout the story is being incredibly maternal to every child she comes across) who has been demeaned, degraded, and left out in the cold, understandably clinging to any bit of mercy or affection she can find, rather than an Inspiring Love Story. And honestly, I’d rather read a novel that acknowledges and respects the former reality (deeply sad though it may be), rather than insisting on the latter fantasy.

    **Yes, the Bible, New Testament and all, guides Hadassah and helps her find her faith again. Did I find it troubling that, particularly in a novel about the Holocaust, the specter of conversion to Christianity was so central in ‘saving’ the Jewish heroine? Uh. Yes. To be fair, Breslin treats the New Testament, and the sacrifical story of Christ in particular, as a supplement to Hadassah’s Jewish faith, rather than a replacement for it. But every time that Bible popped up, I became extremely uncomfortable. Fair warning.

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  6. Calib

    Calib Visitante

    Um textão em inglês sobre um livro ruim eu até leio.
    Já dois é abusar da amizade. :p
     
    • LOL LOL x 4
  7. Bruce Torres

    Bruce Torres Let's be alone together.

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    Posted by:
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    on 5 August 2015

    You might not be aware but a few weeks ago, a book called
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    was up for a RITA from the Romance Writers of America. It’s an Emmy or an Oscar of romance writing. The book was published in 2014 and I had personally never heard of it prior to reading the Smart Bitches review of it. That is what I’ve linked to as I’d rather not link to its Amazon or Goodreads profiles.

    In short, the book is a retelling of the Book of Esther (a Jewish story about a strong Jewish woman, who saves her people, and keeps her faith, and is not a romance) in which a Nazi camp commander saves a Jewish woman from Dachau and takes her to Theresienstadt in then-Czechoslovakia. There, they fall in love, and through a magically appearing Bible, find Jesus, and save Jews. At the end, the woman converts to Christianity because that’s her redemption arc.

    There are multiple factors at play here. First, the author, Kate Breslin, co-opted the horrific, unimaginable tragedy that happened within living memory to other people to promote her own agenda (evangelical/inspirational Christianity).Second, her agent, her publisher, and multiple RWA judges, not to mention the HUNDREDS of reviews on retail sies and Goodreads, did not think this was problematic. Third, the way we, across religions, have begun to approach the Holocaust is problematic and dangerous.

    I could tell you about the microaggressions I experience as a Jewish woman regarding the Holocaust. I can tell you that people told me so often that I was “lucky” to have blonde hair blue eyed (like the heroine of Breslin’s book) because I “would have probably survived the Holocaust.” I began to adopt it as my own line, a way of deflecting the comment before it came. I can tell you that people have told me to “stop playing the Holocaust card.” And I can tell you that while I wish the Jewish national identity did not have to cling so tightly to its tragedies, it is a privilege the rest of you experience that you do not.

    Over at Smart Bitches, the review is absolutely on point.
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    , Rose Lerner goes through the problematic five star reviews of the book.
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    And I, KK Hendin, India Valentin, Dahlia Adler and others have been on Twitter. I’m adding my long form response here in hopes that Breslin, her publisher, RWA, the judges, and the readers and reviewers consider Jewish voices that they co-opted, stole from, offended, undermined and erased through the publication and award of this book.

    In the book, the commander is the head of Theresienstadt. For those who don’t know, Theresienstadt was the ‘model camp’ used to show the Red Cross that things weren’t “so bad”. In reality, 140,000 people were interned there and just over 17,000 people survived it and the deportations to Auschwitz. The commander of that camp made people stand out in freezing temperatures until they literally dropped dead. He killed thousands of children. He oversaw the deportations to Auschwitz where a small percentage survived. He watched tens of thousands of people die of disease and starvation in his ‘model camp’. And Breslin, her publishers, her readers, and RWA judges found that person worthy of redemption. Not only worthy of, but exceptional. Romantic.

    If that’s your definition of a romantic hero…I have no words for you. I didn’t realize that genocide turned so many people on, but there you go.

    Part of this is the glorification of forgiveness and the idea that every person is redeemable. There was a good conversation I had on Twitter about this and I understand these are religious and fundamental differences between people. I don’t think mass genocide is a forgivable thing. Kate Breslin, her publishers, her readers, and RWA does.

    Part of this is evangelical Christianity’s relationship with Jewish people (not with Judaism, let’s be clear) and Israel. Let’s be clear: we are people. We are not anyone’s tickets into heaven. We are not your Chosen people.

    Part of this is that anti-Semitism in America wears many masks, and one of them is silence. It is as violent as the others. Silence is not neutrality. Silence allows, if not fosters, oppression, aggression, and erasure. If you are silent on this book, please take a moment to examine why you are silent.

    In Kate Breslin’s book, there is an unequal power dynamic. There is no consent. What you are celebrating is rape, and it happened to many women during the Holocaust. He has all the power. She has none of it. Her life is in danger. She cannot consent in this case. That is rape. What happened is rape and rape is not romantic. And it’s certainly not inspirational.

    What happened here is that Kate Breslin stole a tragedy that wasn’t hers to promote her own personal agenda. And in doing so, she contributed to the erasure of both victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Her book is anti-Semitic, violent, and dangerous. It glorifies and redeems a Nazi, while removing all of the Jewish woman’s agency and forcing her to convert to Christianity in order for her arc to be considered redemption. It is, in fact, exactly what has been done to the Jewish people throughout history. For longer than Christianity has been a religion, Jews across the world have been forced to convert or to hide their Judaism to save their lives. That is violence. That is erasure. Kate Breslin’s book is violence and erasure.

    And as a Jewish woman who writes romance, I feel betrayed. Betrayed by my fellow romance readers. Betrayed by the people who published this. Betrayed by the judges who allowed it to get past the first round much less onto the ballot. Betrayed by the organization whose silence was support. Betrayed by everyone who has remained silent on this, who hasn’t called it out.

    It is not easy to be Jewish in America. Many think it is because of stereotypes, but when push comes to shove, especially online, we turn toward our own and huddle close. It’s a collective memory safety measure. We have only ever been safest in communities made entirely of Jews. There are places in America where I am safer to say I am queer than I am Jewish. I talk more about queerness than Jewishness because of the backlash I’ve received for my Judaism. When discussions of diversity and racism come up, we are excluded.

    But, as Justina Ireland and I were saying on Twitter yesterday, the Venn Diagram of racists and anti-Semites is a circle.

    The discussion last night on Twitter was draining and exhausting. It is hard to shout about this for weeks. I admire Sarah so much for that open letter and my fellow Jewish writers and readers who were speaking up. I’m grateful for our allies who signal boosted.

    I asked during the discussion when non-Jewish people learned about the Holocaust as I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know about it.

    The responses were illuminating. Most people learned in late elementary school, some as late as high school and into college. Some learned in units during history or social science classes. But most learned because they read books like Devil’s Arithmetic, Night, The Diary of Anne Frank, Number the Stars in English/Language Arts classes. I worry that by teaching nonfiction right next to fiction, we’re subconsciously distancing the Holocaust from real life. From ‘truth’. That it’s being filed away in minds as fiction.

    I know that the Holocaust is hard to wrap our heads around. 6 million Jews, and roughly 5-6 million other victims, including Roma, disabled people, gay people, political prisoners, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. That’s more people than any of us have ever seen standing in one place. That’s more people than live in New York City. That’s an incomprehensible number of lives and stories that went up in smoke. And there are more victims than we will ever know: there are mass graves and bodies all over the forests of Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, France. Not everyone made it to camps. I know this is hard to comprehend and I know that books and movies are increasingly our only access point for information about the Holocaust as survivors pass away.

    But it’s alarming to me the number of people who learned late in life. Or who considered late elementary school to be early. For Jews, the Holocaust is something we carry with us everywhere. It is always with us. It informs our identity, our way of moving through the world, our holidays, our grandparents’ experiences, how we interact with food and triggers. My father won’t buy German cars. I won’t drink Fanta. There are ways the Holocaust lingers because it fundamentally changed Jewish identity, even in the wake of previous genocides and ethnic cleansings.

    I am the granddaughter of a camp liberator. I am the great-granddaughter of pogrom survivors. I have stood on the edge of Babi Yar and wondered if the dirt beneath my feet was made from the bones of my relatives who died there.

    The Holocaust is more than a single story. It is more than a book read in a classroom or Schnidler’s List. It is millions and millions and millions of stories extinguished. That we will never know. That’s what the Holocaust is. Not was, but is. History is present tense for some things.

    Writing about the Holocaust is not something to do lightly.

    As a white American, I wouldn’t touch a romance involving an African-American slave because there is no way—none—that I could handle that properly. Because you can research so many things, but you can’t research collective memory and the way that affects you personally. You can’t. I can’t access that certain empathy, that certain feeling, that way of being and feeling in a world that isn’t your own that I would need to in order to tell that story.

    Just because you have the idea of a story doesn’t mean that you should, or have the right to, write it.

    And if you decide to write about the Holocaust, and you are not Jewish, I recommend going to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Go slowly. Listen. Watch. Read. And when you get to the shoes, stand there until you realize that’s a fraction, maybe a 1/1000th, of the volume, from one camp. Just one camp.

    When you write about another group’s tragedy, your goal should be First, do no harm. Kate Breslin, Bethany House publishers, her agent, the readers, the judges, and in allowing this to be nominated, Romance Writers of America, failed that critical first step.

    Please, for the generations that come next who will have no survivors to speak to them, no survivors who saw evil walking around in leather boots and not in the pages of their books as romantic hero, do not do what Breslin and her people did. Do no harm.
     

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