About the Book
Title: The Kaminsky Cure
Author: Christopher New
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction
The Kaminsky Cure is a poignant yet comedic novel of a half Jewish/half Christian family caught up in the machinery of Hitler’s final solution. The matriarch, Gabi, was born Jewish but converted to Christianity in her teens. The patriarch, Willibald, is a Lutheran minister who, on one hand is an admirer of Hitler, but on the other hand, the conflicted father of children who are half-Jewish. Mindful and resentful of her husband’s ambivalence, Gabi is determined to make sure her children are educated, devising schemes to keep them in school even after learning that any child less than 100% Aryan will eventually be kept from completing education. She even hires tutors who are willing to teach half-Jewish children and in this way comes to hire Fraulein Kaminsky who shows Gabi how to cure her frustration and rage: to keep her mouth filled with water until the urge to scream or rant has passed.
Christopher New was born in England and was educated at Oxford and Princeton Universities. Philosopher as well as novelist, he founded the Philosophy Department in Hong Kong University, where he taught for many years whilst writing The China Coast Trilogy (Shanghai, The Chinese Box and A Change of Flag) and Goodbye Chairman Mao, as well as The Philosophy of Literature. He now divides his time between Europe and Asia and has written novels set in India (The Road to Maridur), Egypt (A Small Place in the Desert) and Europe (The Kaminsky Cure). His books have been translated into Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese and Portuguese. His latest novel, Gage Street Courtesan, appeared in March 2013.
A young boy is growing up in a half-Jewish half-Aryan household at the dawn of World War II. He is thoroughly confused as to what all of this means, especially because his father is a Lutheran minister and his mother had converted long ago. All he is aware of is that danger is all around. His mother, Gabi is forced to enter her own fight for her survival and for the rights of her children, now classified as half Jews. The children’s education is constantly attacked and Gabi is ferocious in her determination to have her children educated. Classified as a Jewish woman, but a privileged Jewish woman since she is married to an Aryan, Gabi must be extra careful, especially when she speaks. For this, she employs the Kaminsky cure, holding water in your mouth for a minute before you speak.
Told from the point of view of the youngest Brinkmann son, a unique experience unfolds. Through his eyes, the confusion, frustration and bleakness of WWII is shown in an honest manner. With many moments of light humor, the plight of the half-Jewish Brinkmann's is portrayed. My heart bled as our narrator struggled with understanding what was happening, his confusion of being half-Jewish and whether or not he should say "Heil Hitler" or feel for the Jewish cause; as he grows and the war progresses his understanding increases and his attitude changes. Overall, a different, heartbreaking and insightful story of WWII.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Well here I am at five and three-quarters
It’s Christmas 1939 in a little Austrian village that’s now part of Hitler’s Third Reich and I’m just beginning to notice things. Like what my brother and sisters are about and why my parents are often crying and my father usually shouting when he isn’t crying. I think it has something to do with the war we’re fighting, which according to the wireless is due to The International Jewish Con-spiracy, whatever that is. But that’s not all. I don’t know it yet, but I was born at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
Not that it wasn’t quite an achievement getting me born at all. I arrived too early, presented myself the wrong way round (Was I trying to climb back inside? You couldn’t blame me), there was no doctor, and the midwife had to yank me out like a cork from a bottle. No wonder I protested. No wonder my mother never had another child, either—both of us had had enough. But anyway there I was, a pint-sized runt, the last of the litter, and that’s how I’ve stayed.
Achievement or not though, you could say my getting born, or conceived for that matter, was really a big mistake. First of all there’s the as yet unraised question of my paternity. (Paternity’s
going to be a favorite topic in my family.) And then there’s the un-doubted fact, though I don’t know that yet either, that my mother Gabi is a Jew (she converted to Christianity in her teens), while my very Aryan father Willibald Brinkmann—if he is my father—is a Lutheran pastor who has a sneaking admiration for Hitler. (Many Lutheran pastors have, and for some of them it isn’t sneaking, ei-ther—they’re openly trying to prove that Jesus wasn’t really a Jew.) On top of that they don’t like each other anyway.