Ebbing Garden, The

Ida Fink
Ebbing Garden, The
  • W.A.B.
    Warszawa 2002
    125 x 195
    336 pages
    ISBN 83-89291-16-9

The theme of Ida Fink’s stories, which are collected together in The Ebbing Garden, is remembrance of the Holocaust. Fink uses the terms ”first time” to mean before the Holocaust, and ”second time” to mean during the Holocaust. This distinction is fundamental, as Fink strives to capture an image of the world just before the Holocaust took place. With great precision she describes something that is very rare in stories about the Holocaust – the physical beauty of the world. Descriptions of a fine morning, a misty orchard full of fruit, or a shady riverside are an attempt to capture the beauty of life. In contrast to the traditional Shoah literature, Fink preserves colours, smells and flavours. Sourced from memories, her tales make up a sort of autobiographical fiction. The heroes of the stories are often eyewitnesses, people compiling evidence after the war, or interlocutors who reveal scraps of a truth they pretended not to know about. As a member of the first generation of Holocaust victims, Ida Fink writes – as she puts it – slowly and laboriously, but she never abandons her theme. The countryside and little towns on the borders of former Poland and present-day Ukraine are the setting for small-scale Jewish tales of the war. The marketplace, lorries full of Gestapo men, hiding in barns, children who have to grow up very fast before they are shot, and the ”dismal grey river” of Jews going to their death. In this book ”action” is a technical term used to define the activities conducted by the Germans to exterminate the Jews. At the same time Fink stresses that the word formerly only referred to the way literature is constructed. In her work there is a conscious identification of those two meanings – the actions of the Nazis become the action of her stories.

Kazimiera Szczuka