Anna Rosner Blay

Media responses to Sister, Sister


The Morning Bulletin, Saturday May 2, 1998: …From a female perspective it is gripping and evocative, revealing both the inner and outer lives of two women who became inseparable as their family was decimated.


Daily Telegraph, Saturday 11 April, 1998: …Rosner Blay’s book is a tribute to her parents, her grandfather, her aunts and uncles, and the others she didn’t know who survived and the six million who didn’t. (Sandra Lee)


The Australian Jewish News, Friday May 8, 1998: …Right from the opening page, I was caught up in the moving, simply told and easy-to-read story as more than 50 years of silence faded. Vivid word pictures brought together the sisters’ stories… Anna is finally able to understand where she comes from and the sources of her own confusion and anxiety…. This book is a great achievement and worthy addition (especially for those of the second generation) to the ever-growing literature about the Holocaust. (Stan Marks)


Sunday Herald Sun, May 10, 1998: Blay’s book is a gripping biography of Hela and Janka… It is also, in a sense, a biography of all adult children of Holocaust survivors who have discovered intimate connections with the European tragedy. Blay makes it clear the Holocaust is not yet a thing of the past… Blay’s book speaks for all those who have felt the despair of this unique form of transmission across the generations and tried to untangle it. (Brian Patterson)


Canberra Times, Saturday 20 June, 1998: …the stories themselves are so powerful. They are lucid and perceptive accounts of the daily ordeals, failures and triumphs of so many Jews…Anna Rosner Blay has done the work I still have to, and I owe her a debt of gratitude. (Lesley Fowler)


Weekender, Saturday June 6, 1998: …the book is impossible to put down …triumph of the human spirit which encourages and inspires. (Leanne McDonnell)

The Age, Friday 21 August 1998: Book of the year short-list: …Sister, Sister by Anna Rosner Blay (Hale & Iremonger)


The Age, Saturday 29 August 1998: The Judges Report, non-fiction short list.

Sister, Sister (Hale & Iremonger) is a skilful blend of oral history and autobiography… In a loving, quietly told story, Blay’s childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust is subtly counterpointed with the unimaginable suffering experienced by the older women – suffering which Blay struggles to understand, knowing that inevitably it shapes her own life.


Australian Book Review October 1998: No matter how much ink is spilt recording the vents of the Holocaust, its horrors still burn brightly on the page. In this regard, Sister, Sister deserves to stand alongside Mark Baker’s The Fiftieth Gate and Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark for its pungent evocations of anti-Semitic hysteria. This biography follows the story of two sisters, Janka and Hela, from their comfortable, middle-class life in pre-War Poland: subsequent expulsion from Krakow and incarceration at numerous concentration camps; and eventual escape to France and, finally, to Australia. Interspersed with their first-hand memories are modern day observations from Blay herself, niece and daughter of Janka and Hela respectively…Sister, Sister makes for chastening reading. With careful, painful strokes, Janka and Hela paint a world where a piece of potato peel means the difference between life and death, a world where humans are branded and transported like livestock and told that the only way they will leave Auschwitz is through the chimney. That the sisters lived to tell their tale is nothing short of miraculous. (Thuy On, Melbourne reviewer)


The Jewish Georgian (Atlanta, Georgia) May-June, 1999: Like precious jewels, the vignettes in this tale of lives both lost and miraculously preserved form a precious memento honouring those forever changed by the Holocaust. Schindler’s List author Thomas Keneally describes Sister, Sister as ‘fascinating, whimsical, robust, and horrifying.’