(JTA) – The death of Martin Amis, the prolific British author, came just as a film adaptation of one of his Holocaust novels premiered to rave reviews at the Cannes Film Festival.
Amis, who died on Friday of esophageal cancer at the age of 73, was not primarily known for his Holocaust fiction. But that aspect of his career may soon loom large, as “The Zone of Interest,” an adaptation of his penultimate novel, has become an early favorite to win this year’s Palme d’Or, the top prize at Cannes.
If the film comes away from the festival with an award, it could serve as an honor of sorts at the end of a largely celebrated but at times controversial career. In addition to his writing, Amis was known for his tabloid-fodder romances and derogatory comments about Muslims. The son of British literary titan Kingsley Amis, his most well-regarded work included the so-called London Trilogy of novels, published in the 1980s and 1990s, and a 2000 memoir.
Published in 2014, “The Zone of Interest” was Amis’ second-to-last novel and concerned itself, as many of his works did, with the mechanisms of genocide and the dark theme of societal collapse. The book centers around a figure loosely inspired by Auschwitz death camp commandant Rudolph Hoess. It dissects the mentality of Nazi officers and their families as they attempt to construct compartmentalized personal lives while committing atrocities against Jews. Amis’ novel also includes the perspective of a Jewish sonderkommando — a concentration camp prisoner who disposed of the dead bodies of fellow Jews after they had been gassed.
In the movie version, directed by the acclaimed British Jewish filmmaker Jonathan Glazer, the protagonist is explicitly Hoess himself. Glazer told reporters that he hoped the film adaptation would “talk to the capacity within each of us for violence, wherever you’re from.” It was important, he said, to depict Nazis not as “monsters,” but rather to show that “the great crime and tragedy is that human beings did this to other human beings.” The movie was filmed in Auschwitz and is scheduled to be released later this year.
“The Zone of Interest” was Amis’ second novel about the Holocaust. In 1991, he published “Time’s Arrow: or The Nature of the Offense,” an experimental narrative about a Nazi doctor in Auschwitz. Told in reverse chronology, the novel begins with the doctor’s “retirement” in America, before rewinding to show him brutalizing people in the camps. Critics celebrated the book for its depiction of the absurdity underpinning the Holocaust.
Amis was known more broadly for his mixture of satirical novels and fierce polemics, and he took on everything from the Stalinist regime to modern-day feminism to Islam in the post-9/11 world. That last topic earned him particular condemnation in 2006 when he asserted, among other things, “The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.” He apologized for that comment and denied being an Islamophobe, though soon afterward, according to The New York Times, he identified as an “anti-Islamist” and told the British newspaper The Independent: “Anti-Islamism is not like antisemitism. There is a reason for it.”
If “The Zone of Interest” wins the top prize at Cannes, it will come amid a wave of other premieres at the festival this year that also grapple with historical antisemitism. “Occupied City,” a new four-hour documentary from Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, juxtaposes modern-day Amsterdam with descriptions of its citizens’ lives under Nazi occupation. “The Goldman Case,” a courtroom drama, is based on the real-life 1975 trial of left-wing French Jewish radical Pierre Goldman, who claimed he was a victim of antisemitic targeting by police and who was later murdered. “Kidnapped,” which will premiere Tuesday, is an Italian historical drama about the Catholic Church’s 19th-century kidnapping of Jewish child Edgardo Mortara.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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