Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Interview with Jon Clinch October's featured author of The Thief of Auschwitz

Please welcome to The Reading Frenzy our October featured author Jon Clinch whose poignant and not an easy read at times The Thief of Auschwitz we’ll be discussing the whole month and Jon will be joining in the conversation.
Here's Jon

Jon, welcome back to The Reading Frenzy, (to see our original interview click here) I’m excited to be sharing this novel with my readers in October and grateful that you’ve agreed to join in! Jon what led to your writing this novel?
One version of the truth is that the title came to me in a dream. Another version is that after I’d memorialized my parents’ generation in KINGS OF THE EARTH,. I wanted to honor that same generation on my wife’s side of the family.

Now that The Thief of Auschwitz has been out for a year now.  
Is there one thing that stands out to you about reader reactions to your novel?
I was delighted when the Jewish Daily Forward had kind things to say about it. The Forward was the literary home of Isaac Bashevis Singer, after all. And their stamp of approval suggested to me that I’d accomplished what I set out to do.

In your novel that we’ll all read together in October, which character besides Max spoke the loudest to you and why?
That’s a hard one. In many ways I think of the Rosen family as a single entity with many facets. Jacob’s steadfastness. Eidel’s grace and power. Poor lost Lydia. Among the minor characters, I guess I’d single out Gretel. Like me, she believes in the power of the written word to change the world and overcome evil.

If you had to pick one thing you want readers of this novel to come away with what would it be?
I’d like them to believe in a world suffused with parental love, even under the worst of circumstances.

What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
The hardest thing was creating a balance between showing the horrible truth and writing an engaging story.  A full accounting of the horrors of Auschwitz would have made the book just plain unreadable, and yet to discount those horrors would have been an act of bad faith to the people who endured them.

What are you working on now and when will it be out?
I’m about to finish up a science fiction novel under my pen name, Sam Winston. Sam’s first book, WHAT CAME AFTER, was a surprise Amazon bestseller last year. The sequel, INTO THE SILENT WORLD, should be out in a couple of months. After that, I’ll be finishing up a novel that’s been in progress for years now — THE INFINITE VARIETIES OF LOSS. It’s about my paternal grandfather, who was a bit of a troublemaker.

Jon many authors that I know are often crunching under deadlines, which places them in their own particular writing cave where the world around them disappears.
Does this happen to you too?
Not too much. I’ve been writing professionally for most of my life, first in advertising and now in fiction. So I tend to approach the whole business very dutifully.

Jon are you a full time author?
I sure am, although it’s getting harder and harder to make a dent in the world by means of what we call literary fiction. Hence Sam Winston and his post-apocalyptic sci-fi. Then again, I grew up reading that stuff.

Jon thanks for answering these questions. I’m sure there’ll be more to answer once the discussion starts.
See you on Monday October 7th

Connect with Jon Website - Facebook - Twitter

Week One October - 7-13 Book One
Week Two October 14-20 and
Week Three October 21-27 We'll discuss Book Two

My Review of The Theif of Auschwitz

The Thief of Auschwitz
Jon Clinch
Unmediated Ink
258 pages

The story starts in 1942 when the Rosen family with no other alternative arrives at the train station to Auschwitz where for the next year through death, humiliation, degradation and torture their lives are documented. The story is told in excruciatingly painful words to read but also with all the humanness that makes this such an important novel. We’re introduced to all sorts of characters from the soldiers to the prisoners, from the truly cruel to those who’s cruelty resulted from the circumstances created by camp life.
And between the chapters of terror we learn of Max, the son who’s obviously made it through to an old age, who’s obviously followed in the footsteps of his artist mother, who suffers no fools, but has suffered greatly from the experience of monsters in the death camp known as Auschwitz.

There have been many stories written of the Holocaust; of the atrocities of the Nazis to the people they thought beneath them, who they thought less than human, most of who were Jews. I hope that trend continues especially now when we’re loosing the last of the victims, the heroes and all those who lived through WWII in one way or another.

In Jon Clinch’s latest novel he gives us a unique perspective of Auschwitz, the most recognized death camp during the Nazi devastation of Europe. He follows one family, not necessarily religious Jews, a family of some influence who unfortunately with no where left to run, no where left to hide found themselves at the train station deceptively made to look inviting by the flower boxes and the trompe-l’oeil clock always set at half passed three. The mother a painter, the father a barber and the children a boy of 14 and a small girl with a cold.
As all of these stories whether true or fiction it wasn’t easy to read, it’s comprehension is somewhat unbelievable to those of us who can’t imagine such evil. But it’s none the less an important story and I’m fortunate for the opportunity to have read it.
I will definitely be reading more of Clinch’s work.


  1. I have read many novels and historical documents of this era and have struggled with the in/humanity of each encounter. The fortitude and indomitable spirit of a people and of a generation shows through in the written histories of that time. I look forward to reading Jon's viewpoint on such a tumultuous time.

    1. Thanks Muse as I look forward to reading yours as well