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In an earlier posting I mentioned that The Cellist of Saravejo is one of my favorite books. It is historical fiction about a cellist who risks his life to play in the town square of Saravejo during the siege of the city. It is one of the best books I have read about life in a city under siege.

By chance I came across a short novel by the Catalan writer Maria Angels Anglada. In her native language it is published as El violi d’Auschwitz (sans accent). In English it is entitled The Violin of Auschwitz. I could not help thinking as I took the book from the library that there has been enough human tragedy to write companion works for a string quartet. What horrific event has been captured by a viola?

The Violin of Auschwitz is about the making of a violin by a prisoner of Auschwitz. The violinist is a secondary character. Like the “Cellist” it is a book about survival, particularly of the human spirit, when entrapped by evil. Her Luthier meets Lucifer.

There is a morality play between the violinist and the luthier cast in the broader play between Nazi and Jew. Life is serendipity and as Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” In The Cellist of Savavejo, it is a young woman who chooses not to do nothing. Here the violin is just playing a solo.

These are worthwhile reads, particularly in our increasingly troubled time. I welcome recommendations that will complete my literary string quartet.

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