And The Rat Laughed: Remembering Writer Nava Semel

Novelist and playwright, Nava Semel, passed away in December 2017. There are writers that you plan to read and never do, and then, when they pass away, you regret not having read them in their lifetime. Nava Semel is one of these writers.

Her work was the first to address the topic of the so-called “Second Generation”— children of Holocaust survivors. And The Rat Laughed is a five-part novel dealing with the horrors of the Holocaust and the influence of this harrowing chapter of human history; on humanity’s relationship with God; on the understanding of human nature; on the need to forget in order to survive; and on the need to remember, nonetheless.

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Here is an excerpt from the novel:

If you were going to hand me over to strangers, why did you bring me into the
world?

Where is “there”?

Who’s going to help me with my homework “there”?

Whose bed will I go to “there”?

And who will be with me “there”?

Who else will be “there”?

Why isn’t “there” here?

Text:
“And The Rat Laughed” by Nava Semel. Translated by Miriam Shlesinger (Hybrid Publishers 2008)

Links:
The Sound of Her Steps
The One Facing Us: Ronit Matalon’s Family Album
Tale of Two Friends: “Bliss” by Ronit Matalon
In Memory of a Life: Aharon Appelfeld’s “The Story of a Life”

Music:
שלמה ארצי – בגרמניה לפני המלחמה

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