We lost two unique authors this past week: Arnost Lustig and Moacyr Scliar.
Arnost Lustig’s death was reported. He was 84 and passed away in Prague. His writing were based on his experiences during WWII. He was a recipient of the Franz Kafka Prize, and taught at American University in Washington DC for over three decades. In 1942, at the age of 15, Lustig was sent to Theresienstadt; and he was later incarcerated at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. An American bomber destroyed the train that was taking him and other prisoners to Dachau in 1945, and he was able to escape and join the resistance in Prague. The 1964 Czech film, â€œDiamonds of the Night,â€ was based on one of Mr. Lustig’s stories of his 1945 escape.
Two of his over 20 books and essays known to English readers include “Children of the Holocaustâ€ and “A Prayer for Katerina Horovitzova.”
In 1948, he reported on the 1948 Arab-Israeli war for the Czechoslovakian press. While in Israel, he met and married Vera Weislitzova, the author of “Daughter of Olga and Leo.”
Moacyr Scliar, MD, a Brazilian Jewish novelist, and one of Brazil’s most famous authors passed away last week at the age of 73. He was a resident of Porto Alegre in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul province and based many of stories in Bom Fim, the Jewish section of the city. His most famous novel, “The Centaur in the Garden,” was about a centaur born to a Jewish family in Brazil (which was representative of living Jewish, or out of place, in society). In “The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes,” the main characters finds out that he is Jewish after reading his late fatherâ€™s journals. His novel, “Max and the Cats,” about a young Jewish refugee who flees Germany on a ship carrying wild animals to Brazil. It is shipwrecked and the boy ends up in a lifeboat with a wild jaguar. Yann Martel based the award winning book, â€œLife of Pi,â€ on this story.