Gilbert Cruz
November 10, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

This Has Happened

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Piera Sonnino
publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a B+

Piera Sonnino’s short memoir This Has Happened is concise, restrained, and tightly written, a look from the inside of the Holocaust out. An Italian Jew who was the only survivor after her eight-person family was deported to Auschwitz, Sonnino finished her account 15 years after the war’s end; it was made public by her daughters after her 1999 death. She refrains from vivid description, providing only cold memories that are sometimes horrifically crisp (”I wake up on something soft and hard at the same time. I touch it. There are legs, it’s a stomach, it’s a bed. A face. Frozen. I have slept on a dead woman”) and other times blurry with incomprehension (”From that moment my memories became confused, detached, impersonal”). Both tales, while vastly different in execution, prove that there are limitless ways of looking at that most inexplicable of human moments.

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