" “A thoughtful and insightful exploration.” --Library Journal
"In a heartfelt ... memoir, the author extols the act of listening as an expression of love and empathy ...A celebration of human connection." --Kirkus
“In this exquisite work, novelist Morris makes an impassioned case for the value of spoken history … Weaving spectacular storytelling with wise advice, this underscores the beauty of slowing down in an age of distraction.” --Publishers Weekly
Praise for Cilka's Journey:
"In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Morris’s propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag."--Publishers Weekly
Praise for The Tattooist of Auschwitz:
“Based on a true story, the wrenching yet riveting tale of Lale’s determination to survive the camp with Gita is a moving testament to the power of kindness, ingenuity, and hope.” —People
“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is the story of hope and survival against incredible odds and the power of love.” —PopSugar
“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document...I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.” —Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project
Morris's (The Tattooist of Auschwitz) memoir discusses her philosophy of listening and explains how she researches her historical fiction. Growing up in rural New Zealand, Morris experienced an austere upbringing in which children were seen but not heard. Two exceptions were her father and great-grandfather, whose respectful conversations with Morris taught her how to listen. These skills served Morris well when she met Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who survived the Holocaust and whose story she eventually retold in fiction. While most of the memoir is framed by Morris's experiences interviewing and befriending Sokolov, she also relates the backstories behind her two other novels, both of which came from the remarkable stories of Holocaust survivors. Interspersed throughout the book are practical tips for listening, especially when talking to older people or children. A thoughtful and insightful exploration of how listening skills are important in everyday life as well as in historical research. VERDICT Recommended for fans of Morris's fiction and those who would like to improve their listening skills.—Rebecca Mugridge
How to use listening skills to find inspiration and enrichment.
Morris based her novels The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey on the emotional, intimate details told to her by Holocaust survivors, who were eager for her to hear their stories. In a heartfelt, occasionally self-congratulatory memoir, the author extols the act of listening as an expression of love and empathy. Growing up in New Zealand, she was taught that children should be seen and not heard. “As an inquisitive child, and one who already instinctively understood the value of the story, and in hearing what others had to say, this had the opposite effect on me,” she recalls. “I wanted to know what it was adults talked about, wanted to know everything.” That inquisitiveness has transformed her into what she calls an active listener, for which she has devised some basic rules: “to concentrate, to understand, to respond, to remember what is being said, to withhold judgment or opinion.” Too often, she writes, we listen to another person only to look for an opening in which to express our own ideas. Listening, though, whether to elders, children, or one’s own feelings, is an act of generosity and attention. For more than 20 years as an office manager in the social work department of a Melbourne hospital, she came into contact with patients in considerable distress. “To have someone listening without being personally connected to them,” she discovered, “unleashed a torrent of past and present concerns.” Offering comfort and support for patients and caregivers, she was praised as an “honorary social worker.” Her most significant act of listening came in her relationship with Lale Sokolov, the tattooist she memorialized in The Tattooist and a central character in her memoir. She recounts their growing closeness over the three years that she visited with him and her sensitivity in helping him relate the traumatic details of his life.
A celebration of human connection.