Arnon Grunberg


Six years

Last night my mother called me as usually at around 8 PM. She said: “I went to the bookstore to look for [the new Dutch edition of] “The Jewish Messiah”, but I could not find it. I did find the diary of Rutka Laskier with your preface. This Laskier-lady spent only nine months in a concentration camp and she managed to get her diary published. I bet she has never been to anything worse than Westerbork.” “Well,” I said. “Actually Rutka Laskier got killed, she never came back.” For a split second my mother was silent. Then she said: “But I have six years of experience in concentration camps. Six years. Do you think I can get my book published?” My mother spoke as if she had six years of experience waiting tables.
“Let me think about it,” I said.
But the fact that my mother perceived herself in competition with Rutka Laskier haunted me all day long.