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They Were Like Family to Me: Stories

They Were Like Family to Me Stories Finalist for the Story Prize Honorable Mention for the ALA Sophie Brody Medal for Achievement in Jewish Literature A Spring Discover Great New Writers selection at Barnes Noble An absol

  • Title: They Were Like Family to Me: Stories
  • Author: Helen Maryles Shankman
  • ISBN: 9781501115219
  • Page: 440
  • Format: Paperback
  • Finalist for the 2016 Story Prize Honorable Mention for the 2017 ALA Sophie Brody Medal for Achievement in Jewish Literature A Spring 2016 Discover Great New Writers selection at Barnes Noble An absolutely dazzling triumph A singularly inventive collection Jewish Book Council of linked stories set in a German occupied town in Poland during World War II, where tal Finalist for the 2016 Story Prize Honorable Mention for the 2017 ALA Sophie Brody Medal for Achievement in Jewish Literature A Spring 2016 Discover Great New Writers selection at Barnes Noble An absolutely dazzling triumph A singularly inventive collection Jewish Book Council of linked stories set in a German occupied town in Poland during World War II, where tales of myth and folklore meet the real life monsters of the Nazi invasion.1942 With the Nazi Party at the height of its power, Hitler s SS fires up the new crematorium at Auschwitz and the occupying army empties Poland s towns and cities of their Jewish citizens As neighbor turns on neighbor and survival depends on unthinkable choices, Poland has become a moral quagmire, a place of shifting truths and blinding ambiguities Filled with rich attention to the details of flora and fauna and insightful descriptions of the nuances of rural and small town life Pittsburgh Post Gazette Helen Maryles Shankman shows us the people of Wlodawa, a remote Polish town at a crossroads we meet an SS officer dedicated to rescuing the creator of his son s favorite picture book a Messiah who announces that he is quitting a Jewish girl who is hidden by an outspoken anti Semite and his talking dog And walking among these tales are the enigmatic Willy Reinhart, Commandant of the forced labor camp who has grand schemes to protect his Jews, and Soroka, the Jewish saddlemaker and his family, struggling to survive Moving and unsettlingLike Joyce s Dubliners, this book circles the same streets and encounters the same people as it depicts the horrors of Germany s invasion of Poland through the microcosm of one village.A deeply humane demonstration of wringing art from catastrophe Kirkus Reviews , They Were Like Family to Me originally called In the Land of Armadillos is a testament to the persistence of humanity in the most inhuman conditions.

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      Published :2018-04-06T00:47:44+00:00

    1 thought on “They Were Like Family to Me: Stories

    1. ”e world as it used to be, a world run by the seasons, not by soldiers with machine guns. With harvest dances and girls who wore flirty, flouncy skirts, singing as they spun flax in their parents’ parlors. When neighbors helped one another instead of running to tell tales, where people made an honest living working the land of their fathers, where it was against the law to kill another man’s children because of how they worshipped or the color of their hair.”Excerpt from the story The Je [...]

    2. I finished this book last night and woke up thinking about it, thinking about the author's acknowledgement that "many of the events in these pages were handed down to me by my mother, Brenda Soroka Maryles who reported her war experiences with pitiless accuracy. My dad Barry Maryles, told me narratives of blinding courage and incomprehensible horror. I pass them on in the only way I am able, through the filter of fiction." Fact , fiction, fantasy, magic are all present in this depiction of the a [...]

    3. When I finished the first story, which is the title story and the one the cover harkens to, I literally put the book down, stunned. I found it to be one of the most vivid and astonishing stories I have read for quite some time. The author's use of magical realism was perfect, fit the story perfectly. All I could think was, "Wow."These are connected stories, you will find characters from one blending into another. A small village in Poland that finds itself immersed in the terror of the Third Rei [...]

    4. These stories are wonderful and excruciating. without concentration camps ever being mentioned! There is a restrained non-sentimental way in which the author presents the Holocaust experience from different perspectives in the villages of occupied Poland.ories of remembering the agony of life in a very broken world. Acts of courage cisions made on the spot --and personal attempts to justify wartime. Each story is so well described.at I felt like was an added spectator understand how these chara [...]

    5. Well, I really enjoyed this. But, at the same time, was left wondering if it’s appropriate to enjoy so much a fictional account of the Holocaust. It reminded me of the ambivalence of emotion many felt while watching Benigni’s film Life is Beautiful. The Holocaust as fairy story is dangerous territory and requires an awful lot of artistry to bring off. I think Helen Maryles Shankman just manages it. One of the central thrusts of these stories is the idea that hatred of a race is only possible [...]

    6. At heart, this series of interconnected short stories/fables, is an act of alchemy. The author has as her base material the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis in a town called Wlodawa, on the Polish/Ukraine border. Her aim, brilliantly achieved, is to produce a heartwarming testament to the good and magical in human nature in the face of flooding black evil. Structurally it’s very similar to Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno. Though the author doesn’t possess the artistry of Marra [...]

    7. A Pushcart nominated author and accomplished artist, Helen Maryles Shankman adds to her glowing resumé a magical short story collection: In The Land of Armadillos: Stories - a tightly connected set of tales that merge dark WWII realism, Jewish myth and folklore in an imaginative and compelling combination that greatly impressed me.Set in the Nazi-occupied Polish town of Wlodawa, the stories are told in the perspectives of German officers, their Jewish captives and Polish co-habitants, observed [...]

    8. I was completely taken by surprise by In the Land of Armadillos, but from the very first story I knew this was my kind of book. How to describe it and do it justice? In a series of linked stories set during WWII, Shankman depicts a small German occupied town in Poland. The Jews in the town are being used as slave labour, murdered or sent away to camps – on the periphery, some of them have escaped and occupy the neighbouring forest where from time to time they manage small acts of insurgency. F [...]

    9. This book made me sad.When I first started it, visualizing the war in my head, all those atrocities done by human beings to their fellow human beings, I had to put it aside. It made me a bit depressive, we cannot deny what happened. I needed to step away from it and wait for the right moment.--The Nazis have occupied small town Włodawa in Poland, where the Jews are either set to work, murdered or sent away to camps.This book made me smile.That moment came last week. Picking up where I left it, [...]

    10. This collection of interlocking stories is quite an achievement. I wasn’t as affected by the title story as much as I think others may be, but that is likely because I already knew the fate of the man who is the inspiration for the character at its heart. My favorite stories are those in the middle, including one that is quite humorous—though of course, in the final analysis, it cannot really be such. As the stories built, reflected and crashed upon each other -- ripples becoming impossible [...]

    11. If you like magical realism, then this book is for you.If you don’t like magical realism this book is also for you.It’s one of those rare books that takes this concept and weaves it into the story in such a way that you can interpret it however you wish. Did the Messiah really arrive in the nick of time and then refuses to help? Did Zosha really see people turn into wild animals or was it a way for her to process the horrors she witnessed in the woods? Did the all too human Golem really have [...]

    12. I finished this book today, and sat quietly for a long time, absorbing it fully. This is one of the most tightly woven, inventive, important short story collections I've ever read. Shankman draws from personal history and research to explore many intersecting lives in a Polish village during Nazi occupation. I'm generally not a fan of interconnecting collections, but this one is so tightly woven, it's a marvel. To me, it reflects the greater reality of our human interconnectedness. Shankman some [...]

    13. Helen Maryles Shankman's collection of linked stories about the Adampol Labor Camp in Poland in 1942 is outstanding. There are stories about the Germans, about the partizans, about Jews hiding in the forest, and about the farmers and townspeople. Some of the stories are told from the perspective of the Germans. There is an element of classic Jewish folklore in stories about the Golem and the animals in the forest. Shankman's use of metaphor and imagery is powerful, stunning at times. She writes [...]

    14. In the Land of Armadillos is, by no means, your typical Holocaust fiction. It is wonderfully original, and at only about 300 pages, it felt huge to me. Not in length, obviously, but in content. These were GIGANTIC short stories, with such unique voices and so much to tell. I have never read a book like this before, and probably never will again. It felt so honest, so real -- even with it's fable-like qualities, Golems, and talking animals.Having written this as a collection of stories Helen Mary [...]

    15. A True Story Told as FableThis is a Holocaust book. But you would never know it from the title or the cover illustration, a children's book drawing of an anthropomorphized armadillo and cockatoo looking at each other in quizzical fashion. But it makes perfect sense when you read the title story, in which a German officer responsible for Jewish resettlement in a small town in Poland finds that he has a famous children's book author in his charge, and commissions him to paint the walls of a bedroo [...]

    16. I quite enjoyed reading In the Land of Armadillos, though unfortunately I was not blown away by this collection like most readers. As always with fiction related to the Holocaust, the unavoidable question appears: what else is there to say which has not already been said a hundred times over?Helen Maryles Shankman attempts to answer it by fusing stories of the Holocaust with elements of eastern European folklore, therefore creating a quasi-fantastical hybrid which - surprisingly! - works. Someti [...]

    17. The man took up his pen and wrote:My Own Darling,From my new office, I can see the village square. The houses are very old, with slanted roofs all painted cheery colors. In the distance, I can see church spires, little cottages with thatched roofs, lovely rolling fields. Just outside my window, a cherry tree has burst into bloom.In the Land of Armadillos: StoriesbyHelen Maryles ShankmanI love this opening as I feel as if I can see the view from the office. This lovely Polish hamlet that is being [...]

    18. Beyond fantastic. But you need a strong stomach. I had to keep putting it down to think about what I was reading and to breathe deeply before I could begin reading again.

    19. The collection has interconnected stories set in Poland when the Germans were clearing out the towns of Jewish populations. If you pick the book I would urge you to keep reading because the stories come to a full circle towards the end.; all the loopholes are answered. This is one of the good magical realism short story collections. I am surprised it didn't gain as much publicity as it should.I adored this short story collection. As I started reading I gave it a 3 star in my head. Towards the en [...]

    20. I confess from the start that I am not much of a reviewer. I find that I want to move to the next book on my pile rather than take time to write about one I've finished. In this case, though, I feel obliged to comment. I thought "Armadillos" exhilarating, touching and profoundly engaging. In fact, let me say two things. First, though I finished the book near midnight, I felt compelled to send the author an email thanking her (!). Second, images from the stories, and questions raised by reading t [...]

    21. Linked short stories are quickly becoming my favorite. When done well they are extraordinary. Last year I was astonished by The Tsar of Love and Techno and this year it is In the Land of Armadillos. This book packs a punch to the gut. It is told on the front lines of the Holocaust in a small village in eastern Poland just a few kilometers from Sobibor. Jews are regularly brutally exterminated and life is not guaranteed. I felt this was a very authentic portrayal of the Holocaust. "The Were Like [...]

    22. It took me a few weeks to read this 285 page linked story collection because each story was so potent, I needed time to recover. This may be the most powerful book about the Holocaust that I've read. The stories are about ordinary people in a Polish town occupied by Nazis and how they lead their lives and go to their deaths. Shankman writes poetically, magically, chillingly. Reading these amazing stories, I felt such a profound sense of loss.

    23. This is a wonderful collection of interconnected short stories based in Poland during Germany's occupation in WWII. I think the strength in these stories lies with both the marvelously crafted characters and that there are stories about both the occupied and the occupiers. I think my favorite story is the first in the collection, "In the Land of Armadillos", because it highlights the complexity of the situation that everyone found themselves in during this time period. It makes you really think [...]

    24. Full disclosure: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.In the title story, a mass murderer from the SS finds a Jewish painter that has painted armadillos in a children’s story that his son loves, and the monster finds that he wants to work to keep the painter alive. The contrast is absolutely striking, and this story alone makes the whole book worth reading (although the other stories are pretty great, too).This is collection of stories that take place in Nazi Germany [...]

    25. I received an ARC and offered a blurb for this book:"Every story in this remarkable collection reveals Helen Maryles Shankman’s talent for surprising, disturbing and enlightening her readers. Blending the horrors of war with the supernatural, she creates a literary landscape that is strangely mythical and distinctively her own. These stories haunted me for days after I finished reading them." - SARAI WALKER

    26. Hands down the best book of the year to date, and there have been some good ones already this year. The author prefers to call these connected short stories, but they do tell the story of life in Wlodawa, Poland during WWII. It is not a pretty story but there are moments of grace among the horror. We see some of the events that happen through the different eyes in different stories. These stories could be classified as intrusive fantasy, where the fantastical intrudes on real life. The lives of [...]

    27. Who will live and who will die? Who will survive the Nazi occupation of the dreamy Polish hamlet of Wlodawa? Two-time Pushcart Prize nomine Helen Maryles Shankman weaves historical fact and Jewish folklore in the eight haunting tales of In the Land of Armadillos. In the title story we meet a gifted painter and writer—the consumptive captive of a notorious SS officer—whose painted subjects become unwitting recipients of a blessing. Imbued with a kind of haunting mysticism, we are kept wonderi [...]

    28. This was my kind of short story collection. When I finished it (a little bit past my bedtime *cough*) I just held it in my hands and savored the feeling of reading something that was just such a good read. It was like eating a Snickers bar on a day that if you DIDN'T GET SOME CHOCOLATE THERE WOULD BE HELL TO PAY.Anyway.This is my favorite kind of short story collection, when all of the stories have a common theme or setting and has a thread of continuity through them all but it doesn't just tell [...]

    29. I received an ARC in exchange for a review.Wow.I requested this book after a glowing review from a friend who is a tough grader with great taste and I was hooked from the outset. The eponymous first story is based on the tragic true story of Bruno Schulz and though I knew the story, I was still captivated by the storytelling. Many of the stories are linked and take place in Poland, which I found refreshing. There have been lots of fictionalized accounts of Nazi Germany and the French resistance, [...]

    30. Triggered by an overheard snippet at a dinner, “So I jumped out of a tree, and I killed him with my knife,” Helen Shankman’s collection of eight connected stories set in Poland during the German occupation is a masterpiece of narrative structure and psychological exploration. It is also a book of fairytales, and it is through the weaving of historical fact and rich Jewish and European folklore that Shankman empowers the millions of Poles and Polish Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, and [...]

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