1942. With the Nazi Party at the height of its power, the occupying army empties Poland's towns and cities of their Jewish populations. As neighbor turns on neighbor and survival often demands unthinkable choices, Poland has become a moral quagmire-a place of shifting truths and blinding ambiguities.
Blending folklore and fact, Helen Maryles Shankman shows us the people of Wlodawa, a remote Polish town. We meet a cold-blooded SS officer dedicated to rescuing the Jewish creator of his son's favorite picture book; a Messiah who appears in a little boy's bedroom to announce that he is quitting; a young Jewish girl who is hidden by the town's most outspoken anti-Semite-and his talking dog. And walking among these tales are two unforgettable figures: the enigmatic and silver-tongued Willy Reinhart, commandant of the forced labor camp who has grand schemes to protect "his" Jews, and Soroka, the Jewish saddlemaker and his family, struggling to survive.
Channeling the mythic magic of classic storytellers and the psychological acuity of modern-day masters, In the Land of Armadillos is a testament to the persistence of humanity in the most inhuman conditions.
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by Helen Frost
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"Magical realism meets grim reality in this superb collection of short stories. Narrator Elizabeth Wiley delivers this unique addition to the canon of Holocaust literature without a flaw. Wiley's ability to juxtapose Shankman's descriptions of Nazi atrocities with the serenity and beauty of the natural world is expertly understated. In the title story, Tobias, the Jewish writer/illustrator of a popular children's book, is forced to paint a mural for the son of an SS officer who is too brutish to understand the metaphor within the painting. Each lyrical story merges the ordinary with the horrific, and Wiley makes each one poignant without sentimentality. Many of Shankman's stories are based on those of real Holocaust survivors, and Wiley handles the surprising twists and ironic turns with subtle grace. Must listening. S.J.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine"
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