The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris: Book Review

Holocaust is a sensitive subject. It takes courage to pen down and even read such stories. Brutality beyond imagination. I have read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank in high school and even today I can’t get myself to read it again. 

I’m sure there are many more books written on the Holocaust reminding ourselves of the heinous crimes the human race has committed. After much deliberation and some definite reluctance, I picked up The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

It is based on a true story of Lale Sokolov who is a tattooist in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. His mistake is that he is a Slovakian Jew. Out of the million captives, and in a very short span of time he manages to gain trust within the system and attain some power through which he helps the prisoners in every way possible. One day while working, he inks 34902 on a beautiful woman Gita and instantly falls in love.

The best part about the book is that it has a happy ending. Generally, the books on a sentimental subject like the Holocaust are very difficult to read because of the atrocities depicted. I have flinched while reading some details. Utter cruelty. But I felt happy and satiated in the end. A smile sufficed my feelings for the book. 

It is a story of the unsung heroes who died fighting a battle they didn’t deserve. A story of all the survivors who never expected that they would. Even though they are scarred for life. It is a story of survival in dire circumstances. A story about holding on to life. A story of the belief that there lies a better future ahead. A story of hope that gives us strength. Hope to find a better place to live, hope to never give up, hope to believe that a liveable life lies ahead, hope to meet the love of your life, and live happily ever after.

The book has received notable criticism. Many have criticised the writing. The dialogues seemed pretty bland. Almost sounding like a script rather than prose. Some were bothered about the fact that it deviated from the truth. I think the most important thing is the message this book is trying to convey how averagely it might do so. Some flaws can easily be forgotten in lieu of the horrors it is trying to make us familiar with

The characters lacked depth. Or maybe there were not explored to their maximum potential. I think it’s because after reaching the concentration camp they are reduced to an object no longer perceived as a human. They are stripped of their identities and forced to bear a number inked on them marking them as slaves, taking away their sanity bit by bit, and waiting for their deaths

Since it is a true story, a first-hand account of a survivor it is very important to know what happened rather than how it is told. Maybe it would have been executed in a better way. Perhaps the writing could be descriptive. But, an attempt to reveal the horrors of the past however fictionalised it maybe is commendable. 

It is worth a try if you are inclined towards historical fiction. Be ready to be sentimental. It is going to be a good read if you decide to look past the irks and flaws. 

Have you heard of this book? Have you read other books on the Holocaust?

If you consider getting a copy after reading this post, please buy it from Amazon

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14 thoughts on “The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris: Book Review

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