Just when you think that there is a saturation of Holocaust novels out there in the literary world, along comes Alison Pick’s Far to Go and you see that somehow, someway, new insights and images manage to come forth in this subgenre of Jewish fiction. I came upon Far to Go as I saw it was chosen on this year’s Booker Prize long-list. There was a copy available at my public library, and I took it out and read the 308 paperback edition (Harper Perennial) in two days.
It was a compelling story, flashing back and forth from Sudetenland and Prague in the late 30s and early 40s to contemporary Montreal. Eventually, subtly, the identity of the narrator is revealed, as the reader follows the tragic story of the Bauers, an assimilated Czech Jewish family whose comfortable life is permanently torn apart by the Holocaust.
The novelist, Ms. Pick, based the story on her grandparents real-life experience. Her family, upon arriving in Canada, hid their Jewish past. Ms. Pick went about the process of rediscovering her Jewishness, converting to the religion and joining the community, and in the meantime writing a spectacular tale that far surpasses the popular Sarah’s Key in literary merit as a Holocaust novel.