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The Dark Room: A Novel Hardcover – 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421044
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #768,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ms. Seiffert's book, "The Dark Room", is notable as not only an auspicious debut for this young writer, but additionally for her remarkable talent in relating a feel for human events that took place decades before she was born. None of these three stories is based on Historical Fact, what she wrote she created. That the stories probably did occur in some manner, takes nothing away from the writing she offers readers.
The book contains three stories or novellas that are not dependent upon one another, and while not all carried the same impact, the three are consistently well written. The Author writes in an understated manner, this is not a series of stories that shock by atrocity alone. The book is replete with human suffering both inflicted and endured, but it is delivered with a subtle pen. Ms. Seiffert also has taken a less familiar perspective in this book. The book does have a camp survivor as a pivotal player in the final story, however generally we see the other victims of the crimes of this war. The events that forever damage these people are explored both as they happened and as they are uncovered generations later.
The final story is, "Micha", and I found it to be the strongest. Those who were affected by being present during the war and its aftermath generally struggle with grief or rage that is more familiar; they are the immediate victims of the conflict. The final story painfully demonstrates that certain conduct has ramifications that never subside, as they literally inhabit the generations that follow. Time does not in fact heal many things.
I look forward to more of what this woman will offer as she has a manner of writing that that slowly invades the mind's eye, and in this case encompasses it with its horror and crimes. It is a powerful method of delivering themes that are all fundamentally appalling, without any added emphasis. She presents her stories without flourish and without preaching. A very talented young Author.
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Format: Hardcover
There have been many narratives which deal with the world's reaction to the atrocities caused by the Nazis, but few have dealt so directly with how Germans feel about inheriting the knowledge of these crimes. Does sharing a national identity with people who have committed such crimes make you a criminal as well? This is the issue that Rachel Seiffert follows with such tenacity in her incredible first novel. The question is beautifully threaded throughout the three narratives of Germans at different points in the century. The final narrative of Micha's digs the deepest into the problem. The three central characters are connected to the Nazi warfare and are trying to understand if their relation to it is something integrally related to themselves. What emerges is a well-rounded picture of the difficulty of living with the fact of this history and trying to peacefully make it a part of your identity.
Yet, this novel isn't a meditation only for Germans to deal with their own history. (After all, who doesn't belong to a nation that has committed governmentally enforced crimes against a group of people?) It makes an important statement about World War II but also one about the human condition and our relation to the past. The human relationships are tenderly drawn. All the characters are intensely selfish in their own way, but have encountered numerous difficulties in their lives which have moderated the way they relate to people. The book moves much more slowly at the end and becomes very meditative. At times this becomes more tedious than insightful. However, the final picture is a complicated portrait of national guilt wrapped with small examples of human kindness and forgiveness.
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By A Customer on May 20 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rachel Seiffert is a writer who was born in England but now lives in Germany. She should be congratulated for having the courage to tackle very difficult subject matter as she did in "The Dark Room," i.e., telling the story of the Holocaust, not through the eyes of its surviving victims, but through the eyes of the murderers instead.
Although the protagonists (there are three) in Seiffert's book aren't actually murderers per se, they have become murderers by association; their implicit acceptance of Nazi Germany's crimes against the Jews has condemned them. There is Helmut, who is a Berlin teenager at the start of the war; Lore, a young girl who becomes yet another displaced person at the war's end; and Micha, perhaps the most interesting character, who is actually a member of the next generation. Micha is only thirty years old in 1997 when he begins to question his own ancestry and the history of his family.
I like the way Seiffert tells the stories of her three protagonists. Her prose is terse, quite muted and written entirely in the present tense. We are given only information the protagonists themselves know and understand and they come to know and understand themselves and their situations very slowly and very deliberately.
It is fitting that none of the characters in the three stories that make up "The Dark Room" fully understands the situation that surrounds him or her. Helmut, the protagonist of the first story, becomes a photographer's assistant when a birth defect keeps him out of the army. In his photographs of Berlin he notices that people keep disappearing, but it is quite some time before he understands why.
The book's second protagonist, Lore, may be the character least likely to comprehend the horrific events going on around her.
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