The Novel as Life Writing
DOI link for The Novel as Life Writing
The Novel as Life Writing book
What do fictional treatments of the Holocaust contribute to testimonial literature? Testimony is justified and motivated as a narration of an event that should not be forgotten. Fiction by survivors would be legitimate because, like testimony, it is assumed to be grounded on memory of experience, while fiction by writers removed from the event would be questionable. The publication in 2014 of Martin Amis’s novel The Zone of Interest triggered the usual polemics about the legitimacy of fictional treatments of the Holocaust. Amis had encountered similar objections when he published Time’s Arrow: or The Nature of the Offence in 1991. In this case, according to Mark Lawson, there was a division “between those who regard the novel as astoundingly original and those who regard it as frigid stylistic tricksiness”. The retrospective view not only informs testimonial discourse but molds fiction as well. The temporal structure of Jorge Semprun’s The Long Voyage illustrates this retrospective view and the work of memory.