Outside in World | Browse Books
Use our Book Finder to search for books by Title (or part of the title), Author, ISBN, Age Range, Keyword, or Continent/Country. Then simply click the magnifying glass to start your search.
‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
It Is Not So Easy to Live
by Christine Arnothy
Age Range: 14+
It Is Not So Easy to Live, written in 1958 and translated by Antonia White, is the sequel to I am Fifteen and I Do Not Want to Die by Christine Arnothy. Here she writes about her subsequent adventures after her family’s dramatic escape over the frontier into Austria, and freedom (or so she imagined).
In Vienna they survived a series of adventures and finally manage to cross the frontier of the Russian Zone of Austria with the aid of forged documents, only to find themselves immured in an Allied refugee camp at Kufstein.
As with the first book, Arnothy’s poetic prose is incredibly moving. When describing what it feels like to be a refugee her words are just as relevant today as they were when she wrote them: “To choose liberty is an elementary human right, is easy. The immense difficulty begins the moment one begins to take those words seriously.”
By far the most poignant part of the book is the aspect of dealing with being a refugee. “How humiliating it was to be so frightened and to be holding blindly to luck of inward imploration. And all that for a displacement of a few kilometres. One was an occupier or a liberator, according to whether one were born in the East or the West.” And when she comments on how the family were showered with D.D.T. before they travelled onwards – “he sprinkled us as if we were herrings to be salted.” Or when a train compartment passenger switched off the main lights. It was like the night-light in a hospital ward. “After all, what were we but hospital cases on the long sick-list of History?”
The book goes on to tell of Christine’s arrival in Paris, her exploitation by her employer and her marriage to Georges, a Hungarian whom she met in Kufstein, and their life together in an alien country.
I Am Fifteen - and I Don't Want to Die was welcomed by the critics as one of the most remarkable personal documents of the war based on a diary written during the Russian siege of Budapest. While perhaps not quite so powerful, this sequel nevertheless deals with the aftermath of the Second World War and its consequences for displaced people. It is searingly honest and coupled with the powerful prose it ensures that this is an equally important book to read.