Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hiding in the Spotlight by Greg Dawson

Hiding in the Spotlight has a local connection to Bloomington. The author, Greg Dawson, grew up in Bloomington and the subject of this book, his mother Zhanna Arshanskaya Dawson, was a music professor at the Jacobs School of Music.

As an adult, Greg was astounded to discover his mother was a Holocaust survivor, a secret she kept his whole life simply because she did not wish to talk about it. "Why would you tell your children such horrible things?"

Zhanna and her sister Frina were musical prodigies and managed to escape the fate of their Ukrainian Jewish countrymen by changing their identities and playing the piano for their would be executioners.

Her tale of war, survival and eventually arrival in America had me crying throughout the last dozen chapters. Her tale is one of happiness in light of so much horror and sadness and the written story of this tale was heart wrenching. I could not put it down. Mr. Dawson honors his mother and her family through this investigative memoir.

Mr Dawson interviewed some of the key players in their story. He and his family traveled to the Ukraine to see his mother's town and his grandparents gravesite, Drobitsky Yar, which is now marked with the names of all who perished there. In a chilling post script, he describes seeing his mother's and his aunt's names on that memorial. All believed they had perished with their family.

Mr. Dawson is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel and Zhanna Dawson is alive and well in Atlanta. This is a beautful story of survival.


Anonymous said...

Esmerelda - Thanks for the hometown props! Envy you living in Bloomington. Why did I ever leave? - GD

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a beautifully written account of an important memoir I will have to read. I love your selections of suggested texts. MKP