Saturday, December 12, 2015

Todd Hasak-Lowy

Todd Hasak-Lowy is the author with Michael Gruenbaum of the new memoir Somewhere There Is Still a Sun, which recounts Gruenbaum's experiences during the Holocaust. Hasak-Lowy's other books include the middle-grade novel 33 Minutes and the novel Captives.

From Hasak-Lowy's Q & A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You mentioned just now, and you also note in your Afterword, “I didn’t want to work on this project when I was first given the opportunity.” Why was that, and what changed your mind?

A: Because of the historical events in question—along with Michael’s experiences—I want to acknowledge that this is a delicate matter.

Before writing this I obviously felt that the Holocaust is a hugely important event, and one that needs to be remembered. But I was also somewhat cynical in the sense that I thought we were doing a more than adequate job of this, in terms of the number of books being published on the topic.

So I didn’t much think my energy needed to be devoted to contributing this, and I also wasn’t sure I had anything new to say. Not to mention, I had my own projects I was working on.

So, all in all, at the beginning I took this on with a certain amount of ambivalence. Why did I take it on at all? Largely because my agent, Dan Lazar, thought it could be a great opportunity for me, in part because it was another chance to work with my incredible editor, Liesa Abrams.

Something amazing happened once I started writing Michael’s story, which was that through the process of putting it into words I found myself relearning the subject.

Because my earlier cynicism was inseparable from my arrogant sense that I knew the Holocaust to such an extent that I could, more or less, disregard it—or at least engage it from a distance. Indeed, this is something I think many of us do.

Many of us go deep into studying the Holocaust not long after we first learn about it. I did that myself, probably 25 years ago. But then you back off, or at least I did, at which point the Holocaust is reduced to a bunch of highly abstracted ideas.

I think this is understandable to a large extent, since it’s quite difficult to engage it fully on a day-to-day basis. Writing this book forced me to return to the thing itself, to...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Captives.

--Marshal Zeringue.