Jona Oberski - Childhood
The facts alone would be enough to make Childhood an extraordinary and important book, but Jona Oberski presents them in such a way that he creates a deeply affecting literary work. It describes the experiences of a Jewish boy between the ages of four and seven, deported from the Netherlands with his parents during German occupation. This history is particularly moving for being portrayed through the eyes of a young child who has no idea what is going on. He thinks he is on a journey to the Promised Land.
Oberski declines to offer any interpretation. Even the most terrible and tragic events are described from the perspective of the naive child observer. The boy registers all the gruesome things around him in short sentences, stripped of emotion, and it is this that makes the book so hard-hitting: it intimates the larger tragedy by focusing on the boy’s innocent perception.
Jona Oberski was born in Amsterdam to Jewish parents who had fled Germany. He has published three literary titles: Childhood (1978), The Uninvited Guest (1995) en The Owner of No Man’s Land (1997). Oberski is a physicist. - ‘There should be no need to write about this book. People must read it, and as they read attempt to take in the tender monstrosities.’ - Neue Zürcher Zeitung - ‘So well-written that the story floats free of the raw emotions that inspired it, acquiring a timeless validity.’ - NRC Handelsblad