We are inviting all readers and book lovers in Warwickshire to join us for our first #WarksReads Twitter discussion on Wednesday 17 June from 7pm. We’ll be sharing our thoughts about ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris – a best-selling book that you’ll find available as an eBook or in eAudio format to read/listen to now with no waiting on BorrowBox.

What do you need to do to join in?

  1. Download either the eBook or eAudio version of ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ by Heather Morris from BorrowBox
  2. Give it a read/listen
  3. Join us on Twitter on Wednesday 17 June from 7pm to share your thoughts. We’ll be waiting to hear from you (@warkslibraries) and include #WarksReads in your post so we can find it and reply.

To get you started, we thought we’d give you a bit of background information about the novel and some questions to ponder (you’re welcome to come up with your own points/questions too!)

What’s ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ about?

BNB_01760338_M_BNB_01760338_COVER_LARGEFrom the BorrowBox blurb:

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews, who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Lale used the infinitesimal freedom of movement that this position awarded him to exchange jewels and money taken from murdered Jews for food to keep others alive. If he had been caught he would have been killed; many owed him their survival.”

Background to the novel

In 2003, Australian author and screenwriter, Heather Morris met Lali Sokolov, a man with a story to tell (note the difference in spelling – in the novel, the name given is ‘Lale’ so when referring to the book, we’ll use ‘Lale’ and when referring to the person, we will use ‘Lali’). Originally from Slovakia, Lali was imprisoned in Auschwitz from 1942 and was given the job of tattooing a number on the arm of all those bought into the concentration camp.

Through interviews with Lali, Heather Morris drew out his story, turning it first into a screenplay and then a novel. At last year’s London Literature Festival, Morris explained more about the process of writing Lali’s story.

Although based on a true story, ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ is historical fiction. Following its publication, the book received mixed reviews, despite becoming a bestseller. Some criticism was raised about inaccuracies in the novel and debate about the line between fact and fiction was also published. Others, however, praised the writing style and found it an “engrossing read” and it has become a very popular novel, selling over 3 million copies worldwide and translated into 47 languages.

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Reading Group Questions (a selection taken from the 2018 Zaffre Publishing edition)

  1. How did you feel about Lale when he was first introduced, as he arrived in Auschwitz? How did your understanding of him change throughout the novel?
  2. In what ways was Lale a hero? In what ways was he an ordinary man?
  3. Lale faced danger even after the camp was liberated. How did his experiences immediately after liberation prepare him for the rest of his life?

Questions from us

  1. Lale has several close calls throughout the novel – what did you make of these escapes? Of all of them, which was the most memorable?
  2. Do you see kindness reflected in the novel, along with the brutality of the events of the Holocaust? How does this impact your feelings/perceptions of the novel and its characters?
  3. What other characters would you have liked to know more about?
  4. The novel was based on interviews the author did with Lali when he was an old man and after Gita had passed away – how do you think this might have influenced the telling of the story?
  5. Do any of the inaccuracies in the novel impact your appreciation of it? Do any of the errors make it a lesser reading experience?
  6. Although based on a true story, the novel is a work of historical fiction. What is the place of truth and historical fact in all historical fiction?
  7. When a book becomes a bestseller and raises lots of discussion, how does this influence your desire to read it? Does it influence your reading of it and how you view the book?
  8. Would you recommend this to other readers?

If you haven’t yet, you can download a copy of the novel now with no waiting from BorrowBox. If you are new to using our eBook/eAudio service, we have a ‘BorrowBox Basics‘ introductory video and a ‘Tips & Tricks‘ to help you explore the titles we have available.

When using BorrowBox, you can make various adjustments to the font, font size and background when reading an eBook and to the playback speed of an eAudio book to ensure that you have the optimum reading/listening experience you can.

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If you need any further assistance with our Digital Library, you can email us at libraryenquiryteam@warwickshire.gov.uk.

We look forward to discussing ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ with you on 17 June. Remember to include #WarksReads in your post so that we can spot it and we will see you from 7pm.

Happy Reading!

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