Cover image for Lovely green eyes : a novel
Lovely green eyes : a novel
Lustig, Arnošt.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Krásné zelené oči. English
First North American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Arcade Pub. : Distributed by AOL Time Warner Book Group, [2001]

Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.7 12.0 76499.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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She has hair of ginger and lovely green eyes, and she has just been transported with her family from Terez+n to Auschwitz. In short order, her father commits suicide, and her mother and younger brother are dispatched to the gas chambers, but young Hanka Kaudersov+, working for Dr. Krueger, is still alive. Faced with the choice of death or working in a German military brothel on the eastern front, she chooses life, and passes as an Aryan. Hanka fights cold and hunger, fear and shame, sustained by her loathing of the men who visit her and by a fierce desire to live. This remarkable novel soars beyond nightmare to leave the reader with a transcendent sense of hope.

Author Notes

Arnost Lustig (December 21,1926 - February 26, 2011) was a renowned Czech Jewish author of novels, short stories, plays, and screenplays whose works have often involved the Holocaust. Lustig himself was a survivor of the Holocaust. He was born in Prague. As a young boy, he was sent in 1942 to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, from there he was later transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, followed by time in the Buchenwald concentration camp. In 1945, he escaped from a train carrying him to the Dachau concentration camp. When he returned to Prague, he took part in the anti-Nazi uprising.

After the war, he studied journalism at Charles University in Prague and then worked for a number of years at Radio Prague. Lustig later taught at the American University in Washington, D. C. His most renowned books are A Prayer For Katerina Horowitzowa (published and nominated for a National Book Award in 1974), Dita Saxová (1962, trans. 1979 as Dita Saxova), Night and Hope (1957, trans. 1985), and Lovely Green Eyes (2004).

Lustig's short story selections included "Children of the Holocaust," "Indecent Dreams," and "Street of Lost Brothers." He was awarded an Emmy, a National Jewish Book Award, and the Karel Capek Award for Literary Achievement by President Valclav Havel.

After his retirement from the American University in 2003, he became a full-time resident of Prague. In 2008, Lustig became the eighth recipient of the Franz Kafka Prize, and the third recipient of the Karel Capek Prize in 1996. Lustig died at age 84 in Prague on February 26, 2011, after suffering from Hodgkin lymphoma for five years.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Fifteen-year-old Hanka Kaudersova, captured by Nazis along with her family, soon remains as the only surviving member and finds herself faced with a choice: execution in the morning, or quietly slipping into the crowd of girls conscripted to work in an army brothel. She quickly and unapologetically chooses to live. The reader follows "Skinny" (as she is dubbed by her madam and the soldiers, who have superficial nicknames for all the girls) through her several weeks in the brothel and again after the war is over, as she and other survivors struggle to understand what happened. Lustig's latest explores the emotional and spiritual turmoil of a previously innocent character (and by extension, a whole people) who experienced some of the worst evil ever perpetrated by fellow human beings. A prominent voice in Holocaust literature, Lustig continues to command respect with his newest work. A disturbing but profound novel, and one whose possibilities will not be exhausted by a single reading, or a dozen. --Gavin Quinn

Publisher's Weekly Review

Prague-born Lustig (The Bitter Smell of Almonds) adds this chronicle of a resilient teenage girl to his highly regarded oeuvre of spare and haunting novels rooted in the Holocaust. The "lovely green eyes" of the title belong to 15-year-old Hanka "Skinny" Kaudersova, a shy, ginger-haired girl and the only member of her family to avoid death in Auschwitz. At first a cleaner in a camp hospital lab (where the doctor sterilizes her), she continues to evade extermination by lying about her age and her heritage (passing herself as Aryan) and is requisitioned as a prostitute in the German military field brothels. In a typical workday, Hanka services at least a dozen soldiers, many of whom are distraught and violent. Lustig presents the brothel clients as fully rounded characters, both viciously prejudiced against Jews and kind to the (Czech, they think) girl whose body they use. Constant hunger, freezing temperatures and disease further weaken Skinny's spirit, but as the war ends, she realizes she must search for her place in a world built on ashes. A rabbi, who is himself drowning in despair, attempts to offer her solace, but she's unable to shed her shame and guilt. Back in Prague, agonized by nightmarish memories, she settles in with a group of survivors and meets the narrator, whose declaration of love eventually thaws her heart. Lustig's prose is evocative at the same time it is sparse, even during harrowing scenes of physical and mental cruelty. Aided by a fine translation, this is a stunning work, worthy of comparison to those by Elie Wiesel and Primo Levi. In imagining the ordeal of a young girl "who had looked on the devil 12 times a day," Lustig has created an unforgettable character within whom "remembrance and oblivion contended," but who still summons the courage to affirm life. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A Feldhure, or army prostitute, working in Feldbordell No. 232 Ost somewhere near the eastern front during World War II, Skinny is known to the German soldiers who frequent the camp brothel as Lovely Green Eyes. Managing to pass as a gentile and lying about her age the 15-year-old comes by her position after her entire family perishes at Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the brothel, her daily quota is a dozen German soldiers, sometimes more, back from the front. With the sparest prose whose harrowing monotone only increases our sensation of horror, the author covers Skinny's daily routine amid the executions, medical experiments, gassings, and incinerations that are the fabric of camp life. This includes listening in her cubicle to the rantings of German officers convinced that the Reich will last forever. With this highly original novel, written in the tradition of bearing witness, Lustig (The Bitter Smell of Almonds), himself a survivor of the death camps, brings our understanding one step closer to the abyss in which countless millions died. Recommended for all literary collections. Edward Cone, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.