monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

1 minute reading time (265 words)

Ever Notice How Things Sometimes Turn Up at Just the Right Time?

Just now, as I was tidying up (you may know that tidying up the house is part of my writing ritual!), I noticed an envelope peeping out of the basket where we keep mittens. When I checked to see what was inside, I found some notes I took last spring when I was in Holland doing research for What World Is Left. I took these notes at the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation in Amsterdam. There, I came across an article written by Czech author Ivan Klima, a survivor of Theresienstadt, the same concentration camp my mother was in. In the article, called "A Childood in Terezin" and published in Granta Magazine, Klima writes: "Writing enables you to enter places inaccessible in real life, even in the most forbidden spaces. More than that, it invites you to take guests along." 

What beautiful, powerful words! Yesterday, at the Marianopolis Women's Day celebration, I read a small section from What World Is Left, a novel based on my mother's experience in Theresienstadt. Klima's words really capture what I have tried to do in that novel: go somewhere inaccessible and forbidden. It was one thing to know my mother was in a concentration camp, but quite another to put myself in a character based on your her, and try to go to the terrible places she went to. And Klima's right, of course, writers "invite... guests along." Those guests are all the people who read our work.  Like you, dear blog reader -- and like me, if you're one of my students and I'm reading your work this semester. 

Working With Budding Young Writers at Hebrew Acade...
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Comments

Guest - tamar on Friday, 28 March 2008 21:38

your mother was in Theresienstadt? My late grandfather was liberated from Theresienstadt...
Also, when is 121 express coming out? I am eagerly awaiting it!!
Also, is your father Edward Polak? They mentioned tha name during the Q&As of one of my performances.. i don't remember in what context though and wondered if that was your dad?
Have a good w-e!

your mother was in Theresienstadt? My late grandfather was liberated from Theresienstadt... Also, when is 121 express coming out? I am eagerly awaiting it!! Also, is your father Edward Polak? They mentioned tha name during the Q&As of one of my performances.. i don't remember in what context though and wondered if that was your dad? Have a good w-e!
Guest - Kim on Sunday, 30 March 2008 16:26

Nice quote... though I prefer to write for myself, because it's easier to write about things which mean a lot to me, and in those cases, I'd prefer not to take readers along. Or maybe I wouldn't mind if I changed some settings in order to make it difficult for people to realize I was writing about my life...
I'm also looking forward to reading 121 Express... though now I really wish I could have heard the excerpt from What World is Left!!

Nice quote... though I prefer to write for myself, because it's easier to write about things which mean a lot to me, and in those cases, I'd prefer not to take readers along. Or maybe I wouldn't mind if I changed some settings in order to make it difficult for people to realize I was writing about my life... I'm also looking forward to reading 121 Express... though now I really wish I could have heard the excerpt from What World is Left!! :D
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