“The Writer” by J.C. Maetis
The Writer by J.C. Maetis – Schindler’s List meets The Tattooist of Auschwitz – a gripping tale of love, survival and redemption against the backdrop of one of the darkest periods in recent history.
Two Writers. One lives to write. The other writes to live…
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book for free, for an honest and unbiased review.
I admit, when I first received a request to review this novel, I was a little skeptical upon reading the blurb and after my experience with the novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz. However, the premise of The Writer was intriguing so I decided to give it a shot and boy, am I glad I did.
The Writer follows the lives of Mathias Kraemer, Johannes Namal and Josef Weber, three different individuals with varying backgrounds whose lives and paths are tied together by the tragedies surrounding Nazi Germany. Through these characters, the book does a wonderful job of examining the circumstances and impact of Anschluss and the cruel, merciless regime of Hitler on three different communities: the Jews, half-Jews and Austrian-Catholics.
I was surprised to encounter a historical fiction novel on the Holocaust that effortlessly combined elements of various genres together. The Writer is a thriller, romance and drama all in one.
My heart raced and had me turning the pages out of concern for these characters that I fell in love with, anxious for them as they faced the harrowing possibilities of execution and being sent to concentration camps. The unlikely love story of Inspector Josef Weber and Romani-gypsy Deya Reynes adds a different light to the plot and kept me grounded in the horrors faced by non-Jewish couples as well in this very dark period of history.
This is, in my opinion, the strongest element in the novel.
Maetis does an incredible job in bringing to life the struggles of not just the Jews, but other communities as well such as Mischlings (the term used by the Nazi regime to refer to individuals of mixed Aryan and Jewish ancestry), the Gypsy community and those who refused to go without a fight that were branded as ‘dissidents’.
We don’t get a simple, black-and-white portrayal here of good and bad, of the right and wrong choices. Instead, the author gives us a full-fledged illustration of a world that we can count ourselves lucky to have not experienced, but in the process brings us one step closer to empathizing and learning from the horrors of it.
That being said, The Writer may be a gripping historical thriller but what struck me most was the humanity of the story itself. As mentioned in the blurb, a great part of the story revolves around two writers. One who grips to his own life on account of his profession as a writer, and the other that attempts to save others through his words.
Being a writer myself, this struck a chord in me: how words, how the art of writing itself can slice through the darkness and provide rays of light, provide hope and illuminate a path to redemption.
I cannot wait to see this book published and wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone when it is. Kudos to the author for managing the sensitivities surrounding the period of time in which his novel is set with the elements of love, suspense and drama that he weaves into the plot.
Do you want a page-turning thriller? Or do you want a Holocaust novel written so vividly it plays out like a movie in your head? Or even a love story with two very real, very raw characters that you can root for from the start?
Look no further. The Writer has something beautiful to offer you that will make the experience of reading it your own.
The Writer is pending release. In the mean time, you can check out the author’s other works here!