採訪：Yi Ting Chen、劉馥瑩、陳怡仁、Vanessa Chen／換日線全球讀書會
作者 Affinity Konar 是波蘭裔猶太人，祖父曾參與第二次世界大戰，因為這樣的背景，她一直深受大屠殺敘事的吸引。
16 歲的時候，她讀到一本書，談在奧斯威辛集中營裡，雙胞胎的遭遇。當時，執掌集中營生殺大權，而被稱為「死亡天使」的納粹醫生約瑟夫·門格勒，利用 3,000 名雙胞胎進行醫療實驗；其中，只有 160 人存活。
本書原文書名 Mischling 為德文字，在納粹德國，被用以標誌那些同時擁有亞利安和猶太血統者。
答：我的家庭是少數幸運兒之一，能夠在 30 年代逃離波蘭前往美國。事實上，我的祖父在第二次世界大戰中服役，所以我從小就非常了解這些事。而且我常常在想，如果我的家庭不是如此幸運的話，那我們又可能會發生甚麼呢？就是這種近似痴迷的狀態，把我逐步推向故事和書本，我又特別受大屠殺的詩人、藝術家、作家所吸引。
16 歲的時候，我在 Lucette Lagnado 的 “ Children of the Flames ” 一書中發現了奧斯威辛雙胞胎的故事。雖然，多年來我都沒想過要寫小說，但這些故事和聲音卻一直在迴蕩。我無法停止幻想著一對雙胞胎的對話，因為他們找到了生存的方式，並通過無與倫比的愛和關係來幫助彼此生存。
答：寫這本書花了 10 年時間，我得承認因為這計劃而產生出無可避免的悲傷，而導致延遲了很久──當你在寫一本關於大屠殺的書時，需要看很多研究資料，常讓人覺得渾身無力，特別是當中涉及一些令你難以忘懷的圖片。但在同時，這段歷史上也不缺乏觸動人心的善良人和願意自我犧牲的英雄，我從這些故事和獲得不少安慰和靈感，且讓人心生敬畏。就像是看到這些歷史人物最好一面時，他們可以有多高尚。
問：您為什麼選擇以 12 歲孩子的視角，第一人稱訴說這個故事？
我沒有辦法不將貝兒和史塔莎，投射成現實中在奧斯威辛倖存下來的 Miriam 和 Eva。我相信， 還有更多甚至叫不出名字的雙胞胎，都在二戰期間的集中營遭受了難以言說的痛苦。
答：Mozes 雙胞胎（即 Miriam 和 Eva）的寬恕顯然是非同尋常的。他們和其他倖存者的態度，也是為什麼我覺得雙胞胎的故事會如此引人入勝的原因之一。我很欽佩德國為紀念大屠殺而採取了許多措施，而且在德國發聲和參觀是非常有價值的，因為這個議題立刻得到尊重。
Q&A in English
Q: Why do you choose this topic? As a Polish-Jewish descent, does the inspiration of Mischling come from your own family?
A: My family was one of a lucky few who were able to flee Poland in the thirties for America, and my grandfather actually served in World War II. So I grew up with a keen awareness of these events, and the question of what might have happened to us if we weren’t so fortunate was always on my mind. It was a kind of obsession that pushed me towards story and books in general, but I was specifically drawn to the poets, artists, and writers of the Holocaust, and when I was sixteen, I found the story of the twins of Auschwitz in “Children of the Flames” by Lucette Lagnado, and though I wouldn’t even think of writing a novel for many years, those stories and voices were a constant echo. I couldn’t stop imagining the conversations of a pair of twins, as they found a way to survive, and to aid the survival of each other, through an unparalleled love and bond.
Q: During your writing, had there been the moment when you completely fell into the story and were saddened by it? If so, how did you deal with it?
A: The writing of the novel took ten years, and I’ll admit that the inevitable sadness of the project caused much of the delay—you feel paralyzed while looking at the research required for a book about the Holocaust, especially when there are images involved that you won’t ever be able to forget. At the same time, the history also has no shortage of heroes and heroines and episodes of spontaneous kindness and sacrifice that just make you ache—it’s like being confronted with how beautiful people can be at their best, and I took a lot of comfort and inspiration from those stories and that feeling of awe. As a writer, I’m interested in what makes people move past sadness, what makes them endure—funnily enough, the writing process for the book was a reflection of that. I had those beautiful stories alongside, and I had friends and family who happen to be very funny and tell me a lot of jokes, and then there’s also the dog and cat who worked overtime to lift my spirits.
Q: In what manner would you expect your readers to read this novel? Any specific idea that you want to convey to the readers?
A: The idea that people can’t strip your humanity from you, that there’s an ability to hold onto it or restore it, was foremost in my mind as I wrote, along with the question of how one resumes a life after extreme trauma. So it would make me happy to think that some readers might find these questions within it, that the book could serve as an exploration of these theme. And I hoped that the book could serve as an act of remembrance, that it might—through two very fictional characters—lead some readers back to a history that must always remain visible, and the artists and survivors that have shaped our understanding of it.
Q: Why do you write from the perspective of a twelve-year-old narrator?
A: It’s an age that has always fascinated me, because at twelve, you’re on the precipice of adulthood, but your child-like thoughts are still ever-present. It’s very easy for me to write from the perspective of a child in fact—I find it much harder to write in an adult voice because children have a natural aptitude for invention, and an appreciation of sound that surfaces in their speech. Just listening to my niece talk sometimes can feel like a writing exercise! There’s a sense of play and wonder, and I thought that this kind of voice might be able to carry reader through the material in a way that might highlight its darkness differently. The idea was not to obscure the horrors, but to provide a sort of innocent veil or childish mask that might allow us to observe the trauma from another angle.
I can’t help project Stasha and Pearl as Miriam and Eva-the twins survived Auschwitz in the real life. I believe there are more twins that we do not even know their names suffered the unspeakable pains in the concentration camps during the Second World War.
Q: I am aware that Eve chose to forgive when she got out. Have you also forgiven the tragedy, and why?
A: The forgiveness of the Mozes twins is obviously extraordinary—their attitude, and those of other survivors, was part of why I found the story of the twins so compelling. I admire many of the measures Germany has taken to memorialize these events, and found it incredibly rewarding to speak and tour in that country, because the subject commands an immediate respect there. But I must add that I’m immensely troubled by Poland’s recent actions limiting speech about the Holocaust, and gestures like that make it feel as if the reverberations of these events will never quite end, that the victims and their descendents are still being denied even the smallest acknowledgment, let alone justice.
Q: The twin sisters had gone on different paths after the separation. Why do you give Stasha friendship while planning the role like Peter for Pearl?
A: Giving Stasha a platonic relationship with Feliks was important to me; many of my most rewarding friendships, through childhood and beyond, have been with boys who have act like my big brothers, like Feliks does with Stasha. Ultimately, I think this book is often about human connection and it felt right to take up that platonic angle, just to explore what it might look like to bond so fiercely with another child in duress, one who is not a love interest or blood relative, but undeniably, through the power of a shared experience, becomes family.
Q: How do you create the role of Stasha and her later change? Why is Stasha particularly obsessed with “the patient”?
A: Stasha was too easy to create! She came to me voice-first, as a lament and a howl. I wanted a girl who was a rebel and a tomboy, someone who loved fiercely and fought hard, a person who is extremely sensitive and easy to wound, but so dedicated to the people that she loves that she finds a way to patch herself up and go on. She becomes obsessed with “the patient” because she thinks that currying the favor of Mengele will save them—she wants to beat him at his own game, to disguise herself, and function as a trickster. When she realizes that this is a futile game and Pearl disappears—it very nearly destroys her and she finds in necessary to cling to a notion of vengeance in order to survive. It’s that vow of revenge that sustains her—just as Pearl is sustained by the concept of forgiveness. I miss writing about both of the girls a lot—I felt that I was improved personally by the experience, and they were good company in my imagination.
Photo Credit：換日線編輯部 後製