The Kommandant's Mistress by Sherri Szeman

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A provocative exploration of a complex and disturbing relationship--the parameters of which are sometimes overwhelmed by the lyrical intensity of Szeman's writing and vision.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The rumors spread by the Camp's inmates, other Nazi officers, and the Kommandant's own family insist that she was his "mistress", but was she, voluntarily? Told from three different perspectives - that of the formerly idealistic Kommandant, the young Jewish inmate who captivates him, and the ostensibly objective historical biographies of the protagonists - this novel examines one troubling moral question over and over: if your staying alive was the only "good" during the War, if your survival was your sole purpose in this horrific world of the Concentration Camps - whether you were Nazi or Jewish - what, exactly, would you do to survive? Would you lie, cheat, steal, kill, submit?

Flashing back and forth through the narrators' memories as they recall their time before, during, and after the War, and leading, inevitably, to their ultimate, shocking confrontation, "Szeman's uncompromising realism and superb use of stream-of-consciousness technique make [this novel] a chilling study of evil, erotic obsession, and the will to survive" (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY).

Winner of the Kafka Prize for "best book of prose fiction by an American woman" ('94) and chosen as one of the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW's "Top 100 Books of the Year" ('93), the tales told by the Kommandant, his "mistress", and their "biographer" will mesmerize and stun you, leaving you wondering, at the conclusion, which, if any, is telling the complete truth about what happened between them.

WARNING: ADULT CONTENT, VIOLENCE

(Originally published by HarperCollins '93, HarperPerennial '94, & Arcade 2000; formerly writing as "Sherri")

More Select Reviews
"Szeman has created a novel that announces her arrival as a major talent." Boston Sunday Globe

"Szeman never shrinks from the terrible truths of her dark theme ... By choosing such a disturbing subject, and treating it in original and uncompromising ways, Szeman has added her voice to this essential literature of recent history." Hilma Wolitzer, New York Newsday

"Riveting ... A stunning achievement." San Francisco Chronicle

"A novel of considerable power. Szeman's sense of character, place, and history is unerring, and her mastery of her narrative strategy is remarkable." Atlanta Journal Constitution
 

About Sherri Szeman

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Szeman is a poet and professor who teaches at Central State University in Ohio.
 
Published April 5, 2012 by RockWay Press. 286 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, War, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Kommandant's Mistress
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Kirkus

Excellent

A provocative exploration of a complex and disturbing relationship--the parameters of which are sometimes overwhelmed by the lyrical intensity of Szeman's writing and vision.

Read Full Review of The Kommandant's Mistress | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good

Szeman's uncompromising realism and superb use of stream-of-consciousness technique make this a chilling study of evil, erotic obsession and the will to survive.

Read Full Review of The Kommandant's Mistress | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

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