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English Professor Lauren Grodstein Joins Today Show Book Club with Powerful New Novel

Lauren Grodstein
photo coutesy of Algonquin Books

December 7, 2023

A trip to Warsaw inspired Rutgers University in Camden English Professor Lauren Grodstein’s fifth novel, We Must Not Think of Ourselves, which was published November 28 by Algonquin Books and is racking up national accolades. 

While touring Poland with her family, Grodstein learned of the Oneg Shabbat archive, a covert collection that preserves Jewish history by documenting what life was like in the Warsaw Ghetto during the German occupation. “During that trip, I came across this unbelievable trove of documents, newspapers, and diary entries,” she said. “I just thought, ‘There are so many novels here, so maybe I'll try to write one.’”

Grodstein’s main character, an archivist and schoolteacher named Adam, records testimonies, capturing both the quotidian moments and nightmarish realities of life in the Warsaw Ghetto. In her research, Grodstein was surprised to learn how much the ghetto system relied on children to smuggle food. “The Nazis only allowed about 250 calories a day per resident, which obviously isn't enough to live,” she said. “So, from the very beginning, children smuggled food through tunnels underneath the ghetto walls.”

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