“The zone of interest”: honouring the Holocaust victims

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Abstract


Amis has always found the question of the Holocaust’s exceptionalism fascinating and returns to the subject in “The Zone of Interest”. After analysing how the enormity of the Holocaust conditions literary representation and Amis’s own approach to it, this article focuses on one of the main voices of the novel, Szmul, the leader of the Sonderkommando, whose members were Jewish prisoners forced to clean the gas chambers and dispose of the bodies. Through him we confront directly the horrors of the Holocaust. One of Amis’ greatest achievements is precisely that he humanizes and rehabilitates the figure of the Sonder by transforming Szmul into a comic hero who, in spite of the atrocities he witnesses, reaffirms the unconditional value of life and fights to give meaning to his terrible predicament. The novel is dedicated to the writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, whose voice can be heard throughout the text.


Keywords


Holocaust; Martin Amis; "The Zone of Interest"; Sonder; comic hero; Primo Levi

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18172/jes.3423

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