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More than 75 years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, Holocaust survival stories are still being found. Quercus in the UK, part of Hachette, has just bought Daughter of Auschwitz by Tova Friedman, while the UK’s Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Random House, is to publish Mala’s Cat, which tells the story of 12 year-old Mala Kacenberg’s survival in the forests of Poland with her ‘guardian angel’ cat as her constant companion.
Friedman, now 83, was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. The publisher says: “Her earliest memories are of sleeping under a table in a tiny flat which she and her family shared with several other Jewish families at the start of the liquidation of the ghetto in Tomaszow Mazowiecki, Poland. She was four years old when she was sent to a Nazi labour camp, and then almost six when she was forced into a packed cattle truck and sent to Auschwitz II, better known as the Birkenau extermination camp. Tova and her mother were imprisoned in Auschwitz II, while her father was sent to Dachau. In the six months, she was there, she witnessed atrocities that she could and would never forget.
Quercus non-fiction publisher Katy Follain bought the title in a six-figure pre-empt with agent Adam Gauntlett at PFD. It is to be published by Hanover Square Press in the US, part of HarperCollins. The book will be co-written by Malcolm Brabant, a veteran award-winning special correspondent with America’s “PBS Newshour”, and a former BBC war reporter.
Gauntlett said that Arabic rights are still available and are being handled by Rebecca Warmouth. “The title has sold in the UK, North America, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Finland, and we have offers on the table in other territories.”
Friedman became a therapist and campaigner against anti-Semitism based in New Jersey. She says: “I have been telling my story for many years to schoolchildren, to churches, to synagogues and everybody who invited me. But this is the first time that I will be able to reach a wider audience and especially young people who perhaps have never heard of the Holocaust. I also speak for the million and a half children who were murdered by the Nazis. I’m grateful to Malcolm and all our publishers for taking up the challenge. Together we will get out the word together that the deadly result of prejudice and hatred is genocide. It must never happen again.
Brabant commented: “I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is a life-affirming moment for me. I cannot emphasise enough just how honoured I am that Tova has entrusted me to help her tell her incredible story of courage, resilience, and survival. I’m aware of the huge responsibility that I now carry to ensure that people who read this book are imbued with the lessons of the Holocaust, at a time when surveys show alarming levels of ignorance about the world’s worst-ever crime.” The book will be published worldwide in autumn 2023.
Michael Joseph commissioning editor Ariel Pakier acquired world rights for Mala’s Cat from CIS Publishers and the title has now been sold in 10 territories. The book was originally published 25 years ago and has now been rediscovered. Frances Geller, Kacenberg’s daughter, said: “We are so delighted that our mother’s incredible story of her unique and brave survival is being republished. It was her fervent wish that the horrors of the Holocaust, resulting in her entire world vanishing, never be denied or forgotten. Often, through her tears, our mother would try to relate to us how her wonderful, loving childhood was torn away; how, as a mere child, she had to fight for her life, using the tools and strengths she was given by her dear parents. Until its publication, we never had anything tangible to hold onto and we feel that this book is not just a legacy for our family but indeed for the entire world.” The book, which will be published in January 2022.