Suzanne Ruta
November 08, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Eve's Tatoo

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Emily Prager
genre
Fiction

We gave it a C+

Here’s a bright idea: Tear open the breathless, self-involved New York novel of the ’80s and stuff it with history, religion, and guilt. Eve is a downtown journalist, an Episcopalian with a social conscience, a mid-life crisis, and a Jewish boyfriend who leaves her after she has a death-camp victim’s ID number tattooed on her wrist in Eve’s Tattoo. The tattoo makes a great conversation piece at parties, and Eve takes the opportunity to reach ”compassion fatigued” New Yorkers with invented but historically accurate tales of women who perished in the camps. Not a bad premise for a novel, but Emily Prager’s execution is halfhearted. She has Eve speculate sententiously and ask dumb questions about anti-Semitism, guilt, and forgiveness: ”Under the Nazis, the Germans were like lemmings, I think”; or, ”When Christianity works, it’s about love. What’s Judaism about when it works?” Tattoos go deeper than that. Decals is more like it. C+

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