How can writers capture an unfathomable historical event? How can they give readers a grasp of the dimensions of genocide? How can they portray the legacy of the Holocaust?
“The death of one man is a tragedy,” Joseph Stalin once said. “The death of a million is a statistic.”
Statistical historians try to quantify the truth through numbers; writers attempt to assign meaning and context to those numbers.
Writers know the power of one.
Statistics are a lot like a woman wearing a bikini, Cal State, East Bay history professor Jerry Henig once said. “What the bikini reveals is interesting; what it hides is essential.”
Memoirists and novelists don’t have much use for the bikini.