Book review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (first published in 2018 by Zaffre)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the life story of Lale Solokov and his three years in a Nazi concentration camp. 

In that time, Lale faced immense cruelty, suffering and defeat. He saw his friends, brethren and family slaughtered, tortured and treated as less than human. 

However, impossibly, he also discovered friendship, hope and true love. 

As the tattooist for the camps, Lale was given the task of numbering those sent to the camps; he was in the front line of their detainment and the processes which slowly chipped away at their humanity and their identity. 

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However, he was also a source of some comfort, being kind and gentle. It was in this position that he first saw the woman he was destined to be with, though it would be weeks before he learned her name and spoke to her. 

While Lale and Gita’s romance slowly and delicately blossomed, so too did his career as a smuggler and saviour. 

Extra rations, medicine and treats were Lale’s hallmark, and his way of helping those who needed it most. His relationships with Gita and the other camp detainees were what fuelled him to live, and most importantly, to love. 

There is something so immensely powerful in hearing the stories of others – of their strength in overcoming true tragedy, and refusing to allow themselves to be broken. 

To call Lale Solokov and those who shared his plight admirable or inspiring is not enough, my respect for such individuals cannot be tallied by words alone. It requires action; it warrants his message to be spread, heard, remembered and heeded. 

In reading a story like Lale’s, one cannot help but feel inspired to live life with more love, acceptance, and kindness. 

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I will never be able to do a story such as Lale Solokov’s justice through words in a review, so I urge you simply to read his story and Heather Morris’ beautiful portrayal of it, and take his optimism and strength to heart, and live your best life.

Purchase a copy of the book from Raru.co.za.

Read more of Samantha’s reviews on her book blog and check out her Instagram account.

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