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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.
There are lots of things I notice this Christmas that I’ve never noticed before. When my mother takes me shopping, for instance, which is only between the hours of three and five, there are certain village stores she will go into and certain stores she won’t. And the stores she will not enter are usually the smarter ones, the fish shop and the cooperative, for instance, which are near the best inns like Franzi Wimmer’s and have glossy por-traits of the Führer prominently on show inside, while the shops she does enter are the cheaper ones, even the dirtier ones, like the baker whose bread is often stale and the dairy where the milk is often sour. They have pictures of the Führer on their walls too, of course, but smaller ones and not so often dusted. Some of them even have little specks of fly-shit on his face.
I’m puzzled by my mother’s shopping choices. I take it that as we are from Berlin, we must be a cut above the rest, so we should be going to the best shops, not the worst. And why do we go only in the late afternoon? I know that other people like Jägerlein go at any time of the day. My mother doesn’t explain these anomalies, and I sense I’m not supposed to know the real reason, although I’m still convinced it has to do with our being proper Germans, while the villagers are not. Nobody tells me where I’ve gone wrong. Nobody explains that Gabi is a vicious and degenerate Jewess, that the best shops won’t serve her, that in any case she’s allowed to shop only between the hours of three and five so that decent Aryans shoppers can arrange to avoid the disgusting sight of her altogether.
My parents have always been bickering and crying (I think that’s normal—what else do I know?), but they never openly mention this source of their troubles. Imagine, I can’t recall ever being called a half-Jew yet, let alone a Yid, and perhaps I never have been. I don’t even know what a Yid or half-Jew is. Sara does, of course; she knows all right. And so do the others. But not me. Why should I? I’m never allowed out to play with the village children, so they aren’t going to tell me. And neither Jä-gerlein nor my mother is going to either. As for my brother and
sisters—they’re certainly not going to tell me what it’s like to be called a half-Jew or a dirty Yid. Like rape victims, they never tell because they feel they’re guilty.