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Foreword by Lore Segal
Swept up as a child in the events of Nazi-era Europe, Ruth Kluger saw her family's comfortable Vienna existence systematically undermined and destroyed. By age eleven, she had been deported, along with her mother, to Theresienstadt, the first in a series of concentration camps which would become the setting for her precarious childhood. Kluger's story of her years in the camps and her struggle to establish a life after the war as a refugee survivor in New York, has emerged as one of the most powerful accounts of the Holocaust.
Interwoven with blunt, unsparing observations of childhood and nuanced reflections of an adult who has spent a lifetime thinking about the Holocaust, Still Alive rejects all easy assumptions about history, both political and personal. Whether describing the abuse she met at her own mother's hand, the life-saving generosity of a woman SS aide in Auschwitz, the foibles and prejudices of Allied liberators, or the cold shoulder offered by her relatives when she and her mother arrived as refugees in New York, Kluger sees and names an unexpected reality which has little to do with conventional wisdom or morality tales.
Still Alive is a memoir of the pursuit of selfhood against all odds, a fiercely bittersweet coming-of-age story in which the protagonist must learn never to rely on comforting assumptions, but always to seek her own truth.
"A stunning autobiography, charting the blurred borders of a child, a daughter, a woman . . . a scholar, and a Jew."
"A startling, clear-eyed, and unflinching examination of growing up as a Jewish girl during the Holocaust. . . . A deeply moving and significant work that raises vital questions about cultural representations of the Holocaust and searches for what it means to be a survivor."
"An unforgettable example of humanity."
"Stunning contemplation of human relationships, power, and the creation of history through the prism of one woman's Holocaust survival. . . . Kluger dives in and out of her narrative to consider such topics as her imperfect relationship with her family, her creation of herself as a social being, and the encounters and relationships she's had with Germans since the war. . . . A work of such nuance, intelligence, and force that it leaps the bounds of genre."
"Deftly combining her own compelling narrative with a rigorous commentary . . . adds a spirited and original voice to . . . Holocaust literature."
"A book of breathtaking honesty and extraordinary insight."
"One of the ten best books of 2001. . . . Extraordinary. . . . Amazing. . . . Among the reasons that Still Alive is such an important book is its insistence that the full texture of women's existence in the Holocaust be acknowledged, not merely as victims. . . . [Kluger] insists that we look at the Holocaust as honestly as we can, which to her means being unsentimental about the oppressed as well as about their oppressors."
"A literary autobiography as extraordinary as it is refined, [Still Alive] rightfully belongs . . . side by side with the works of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, and Imre Kertesz."