Please welcome Irene Even, author of A Life of the Twentieth Century, as she tours the blogosphere with iRead Book Tours!
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Interview with Irene
Why did you decide to write A Life of the Twentieth Century as a fictionalized autobiography instead of a memoir?
Irene: The reason I have chosen to write A Life of the Twentieth Century as a fictionalized autobiography instead of as a memoir is because the minute I started to write my book, I realized that I could not possibly write this book in the first person, since I have never been able to talk about my life experiences. And so it happened that when I wrote it in the third person, the story of my life became just a story.
What or who inspired you to put down your experiences during World War II on paper after all these years?
Irene: This story was waiting to be written, but my life was so very busy with my teaching career. Once all that was done, I was free to write the story of my life.
Living through the horrors of World War II-especially as a child- had to be traumatic. Do you recall anything positive or uplifting from those years?
Irene: Some things still bring a smile to my face as I think back on the most dangerous days while I lived with a false I.D in Budapest as a Christian. I was with a small Zionist group of young people and we were going everywhere freely; of course under the threat of instant execution, if caught. That didn’t stop us from going to the Gellert Hotel to swim, which was the Gestapo’s favorite hangout. Our Meetings were held on the Shwab Hegy, again the headquarters of the Gestapo.
I am fascinated by kibbutzim and actually had a chance to visit a kibbutz when I was traveling through Israel. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of such a collective community?
Irene: I have dear memories from the days of my stay in the kibbutz. That was the first place where I experienced freedom and belonging, but that was then. The kibbutz had an important role to play in the creation of the state of Israel, it was the place where the immigrants from so many different countries have learned the love of the land, where they learned to work endlessly for the good of the community. But I think that times have changed, Israel has matured and the kibbutz has lost some of its importance.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Irene: This would be difficult to answer; I think it depends on the individual reader, but I know that my book has an appeal to so many different readers and everyone would have to choose what they are looking for, and hopefully find it.
About the book
A Life of the Twentieth Century is the story of Aya, who lived through the loss of her parents before the age of 3. At the age of twelve she was sent to a boarding school in Budapest, that closed after one year, because the Nazi army marched into the city.
Aya was left totally alone to face the Nazi occupation, and to experience all the horrors of the war. She faced many life threatening situations, such as prison, bombardment or even the possibility of being executed on the spot, without really comprehending the gravity of it all.
The end of the war was supposed to mean liberation, the return of hope and freedom for most people, however it didn’t happen for Aya, who was part of a youth group on her way to Palestine. The destination of this youth group was to reach Italy and the Jewish Brigade. They crossed the Alps on foot from Austria to reach Italy.
As they reached their destination Aya met a soldier from the Jewish Brigade, who was supposed to be her Hero, her Saviour, but turned out to be the devil incarnate. From day one, this soldier of the Jewish brigade took control of Aya’s life when she was only 15 years old.
After divorce, destitute and once again alone, she had no direction and almost no hope, when from deep inside her a small voice said; go back to school. It took all her courage to apply to university, where she was accepted and after 5 year was granted a B.A. and a Diploma of Teaching. She spent the rest of her life teaching, and as she contemplated her life she said to herself that if she had had all the choices in the world, she would have chosen teaching.