This is a passage that actually made me cry:
They come waving their waving their flags, a contingent of Israeli students bearing the blue and white colours of a prayer shawl, at whose centre lay a Star of David. They observed the boulders from a distance, but do not lose themselves within the maze. They have no single thing to find here, just the whole cursed site. They stand as a group, establishing a new focal point against Warsaw, a unified entity at a distance from the dispersed villages. A girl stepped forward with a flute, and plays for the students who accompany her melody in mournful voices. She plays 'Hatikvah', the Israeli national anthem: 'The Hope'. Then another student stands outside the circle and recites a Hebrew verse:
here in this carload
i am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him that i
I recognise the poem from Dan Pagis, a Rumanian-born survivor who emigrated to Israel. 'Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car', it is called.
The student completed his recital, and then another voice speaks the same words, each time stopping before the sentence is completed. 'Tell him that i ...' Another plea, then another, until every member of the group proclaims the unfinished message.
When I returned to our hotel in Warsaw, I recited the poem for my parents.
My mother says the train must have arrived.
My father says: 'When I was taken away from my mother she said nothing.'
I wanted to break the silence for him, to force him to look back for his mother, Hinda.
He is crying; I look away.
here in this carloadThe poem is on the net here.
i am Hinda
tell him that i
He establishes an eerie sort of mood and atmosphere that brings together the past and present, the personal and the factual. There's a strong sense of memory, like old books and ancient records and faded photographs.
What it comes down to is that he has a writing style that I personally like, and the subject matter has always been of interest to me. For a compulsory English course book, it could certainly be a lot worse.