So sind wir (That’s the Way We Are)
Berlin Verlag, February 2005, 260 pp.
In this, her third novel, Gila Lustiger turns her sharp eye on her own family and the particular exchanges – or silences – that formed her childhood and her growing perception of what made them different: not just her exotic name (‘Why couldn’t I have been an Ulrike’), but the legacy she only becomes fully aware of when chancing upon a book by her father in a Parisian bookshop. She captures brilliantly the incongruity of that moment. Her father is the historian Arno Lustiger, and a survivor of Auschwitz. It is the story of a woman almost at home in three countries and cultures – Germany, Israel and France – the resisting of labels too easily attached, the striking of the tricky balance between telling too much and too little, and offers, too, a candid sketch of the emergence of Israel.